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Egypt

    April 26, 2016

     

    26 April 2016

    Security forces arbitrarily arrested hundreds of people in response to planned protests in Egypt yesterday, said Amnesty International, after large numbers of security forces deployed to prevent demonstrators from gathering in Cairo and elsewhere.

    The Front of Defence for Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) early this morning told Amnesty International that they knew of at least 238 people, including foreign nationals, activists and journalists, who were arrested on 25 April across Egypt. The FDEP is a group of local activists, including human rights lawyers, formed to protect peaceful demonstrators from human rights violations. The “Freedom for the Brave” movement, another local watchdog, had logged a list of 168 names late yesterday as activists continued to identify detainees. 

    March 31, 2016

    Thanks in large part to Amnesty supporters who worked so hard tirelessly for his release, 20 year old prisoner of conscience Mahmoud Hussein has been freed from prison in Egypt and reunited with his family.

    In 2014, Mahmoud, a student, was arrested for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” t-shirt and a scarf marking the “25 January Revolution.” He was charged with 'belonging to a banned group' and 'attending an unauthorized protest.’ He was arrested on his way home from a protest against military rule and the Muslim Brotherhood. He was tortured and ill-treated in detention and forced into signing a confession. Mahmoud was detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly.

    Amnesty supporters from around the world joined together with his brother Tarek and took action demanding his release.

    After two years and two months in jail, on March 25, Mahmoud was released on bail.

    Mahmoud and Tarek would like to thank you for all of your support.

    Want to send a message to Mahmoud and Tarek? Send them a Tweet @titotarek8.

    March 25, 2016

    The release on bail of Mahmoud Hussein in the early hours of this morning offers a faint glimmer of hope for Egypt’s deeply flawed justice system, said Amnesty International.

    The 20-year-old spent more than two years behind bars after being arrested at the age of 18 in 2014 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” T-shirt, and a scarf with a logo of the “25 January Revolution”. He was charged with belonging to a banned group and attending an unauthorised protest, amongst other things.

    He was released at 1am this morning local Cairo time and reunited with his family after a court upheld his release yesterday on 24 March.

    “Mahmoud Hussein’s release is way overdue - he has spent more than two years in prison when he should never have spent a single day behind bars. The Egyptian authorities must now drop the absurd charges against him and remove all conditions on his release so that he can be allowed to get on with his life,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    March 23, 2016

    Human rights activists risk prosecution, asset freezes

    In recent weeks, the Egyptian authorities have summoned human rights workers for questioning, banned them from travel and attempted to freeze their personal funds and family assets. These steps indicate that a five-year-old investigation into the funding and registration of independent human rights groups could soon result in criminal charges, 14 international organizations said today.

    The authorities should halt their persecution of these groups and drop the investigation, which could threaten human rights defenders with up to 25 years in prison, the organizations said.

    “Egypt’s civil society is being treated like an enemy of the state, rather than a partner for reform and progress,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program.

    March 22, 2016

    Egypt’s authorities must expedite the release of a 20-year-old prisoner of conscience who has spent more than two years in pre-trial detention in a case of outrageous injustice, said Amnesty International after a court ordered his release on bail today.

    Mahmoud Hussein was arrested on 25 January 2014 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” T-shirt, and a scarf with a logo of the “25 January Revolution”. He was accused of belonging to a banned group and attending an unauthorised protest, amongst other things.

    “While the court’s decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered. He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place. The Egyptian authorities must now drop all charges against him,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    March 18, 2016

    The Egyptian authorities are expected to freeze the assets of two prominent human rights defenders and their family members tomorrow as part of an investigation into foreign funding of NGOs. The move is yet another blatant attempt to paralyse civil society in Egypt that leaves no doubt as to the government’s resolve to crush freedom of expression and association, Amnesty International said today.

    According to a news outlet close to the government, the Cairo Criminal Court will rule tomorrow on the freezing of assets and travel bans against human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat, and two other unnamed persons, as well as members of their families.

    “The measures against Hossam Bahgat and Gamal Eid are arbitrary and punitive, imposed in response to their criticism of the deteriorating human rights situation in Egypt. Amnesty International urges the Egyptian government to refrain from imposing such measures, and to end its onslaught against human rights defenders and civil society,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    March 09, 2016

    Egyptian photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as “Shawkan”) has spent nearly 1,000 days in jail after photographing the violent response of security forces to a sit-in protest in Cairo. He has been tortured in detention and now faces trumped-up charges which could lead to life imprisonment. Ahead of his trial on 26 March, he sent Amnesty this letter about his experiences in prison.

    At 7:45am, a tall, hard-hearted and thick-minded informant with barely recognizable facial expressions shows up; his accent betrays his countryside origins. His mission and assignment inside the prison, like his other “team” members of informants, are to stand near your head and shout the following: “Stand up buddies, all of you; it is inspection time”. 

    February 17, 2016

    Moves by the authorities to shut down the renowned El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence appear to mark an expansion of the ongoing crackdown on human rights activists in Egypt, said Amnesty International today.

    Earlier today, members of the security forces entered the Center and presented an order to shut down operations. No explanation was provided as to why the order was issued.

    “The El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence provides a lifeline to hundreds of victims of torture and the families of people who have been subjected to enforced disappearance. This looks to us like a barefaced attempt to shut down an organization which has been a bastion for human rights and a thorn in the side of the authorities for more than 20 years,” said Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “The authorities must freeze the order to close the Center and provide it with a clear explanation of the reasons behind the order. The El Nadeem Center must be given an opportunity to challenge the order before a court.”

    January 27, 2016

    By Nicholas Piachaud, Egypt Researcher at Amnesty International

    Five years ago, human rights defender Ahmed Abdullah was among thousands of Egyptians who took to the streets for 18 days of mass protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, eventually forcing then-President Hosni Mubarak to step down and the security forces to retreat.

    Today, Ahmed is on the run. He dodged arrest by the thinnest of margins on January 9, after plainclothes police in Cairo raided his regular coffee shop. The NGO which he chairs, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, had recently exposed a surge in enforced disappearances, which has seen hundreds vanish at the hands of state security forces over the last year alone.

    He is not the only one whose activism has put him at risk. In recent weeks, security forces have been rounding up activists linked to protests and journalists critical of the government’s record.

    Five years since the uprising that ousted Mubarak, Egypt is once more a police state. The country’s ubiquitous state security body, the National Security Agency, is firmly in charge.

    January 27, 2016

    Today’s appeal court ruling upholding a two-year prison sentence for five activists, who were convicted of allegedly taking part in a protest last year, is yet another example of the unfair and arbitrary nature of Egypt’s criminal justice system, Amnesty International said.

    Surgeon and poet Ahmed Said was among the five activists who were arrested and jailed in November 2015 for allegedly taking part in a protest. However, according to defence lawyers working on the case, there is no evidence proving that the protest, as stated in the National Security Agency’s investigations report, actually took place.

    The report is based on the investigations of a single National Security Agency officer, but at least two of the activists say they were tortured and ill-treated during interrogation. Some of the offences for which they were convicted, such as assembling without a permit, are in themselves contrary to international standards as they criminalize the exercise of protected human rights, while others, such as disrupting traffic, were unfounded.

    January 26, 2016

    The continued detention of Mahmoud Hussein, a 20-year-old student who has spent more than two years in jail without charge or trial as of today, is yet another appalling example of the ruthless and repressive tactics Egypt is resorting to in a bid to crush dissent, said Amnesty International.

    Under Egyptian law, the maximum time a person can be detained without being tried or sentenced is an already excessively long period of two years, for those facing accusations that could lead to life imprisonment or the death penalty. Mahmoud Hussein was arrested at the age of 18 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” t-shirt and a scarf with the logo of “25 January Revolution”. He has also been tortured in detention and forced to sign a “confession” by the National Security Agency.

    January 22, 2016

    By Mohamed Lotfy, Executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and former researcher for Amnesty International. 

    Never before in my 10-year career has working on human rights in Egypt been so dangerous. 

    Today in Egypt, human rights activists, lawyers, political activists and independent journalists, all have to live with their phone calls being tapped, endless smear campaigns and hate speech from state-affiliated media as well as continuous harassment and intimidation from the authorities. 

    For some, this relentless persecution can even lead to arbitrary arrest, prolonged detention, harsh sentences after unfair trials and sometimes even torture, enforced disappearance at the hands of the state or death in custody as a result of medical negligence. This is pretty much the same list of human rights violations suffered by the people whose rights such defenders are meant to be protecting through their activism and work. 

    December 11, 2015

    A 14-year-old boy who says he was raped in detention by Egyptian National Security agents must be immediately released and those responsible for torturing him brought to justice, Amnesty International said today.

    Mazen Mohamed Abdallah’s family told the organization the teenager was repeatedly tortured in custody, given electric shocks on his genitals and had a wooden stick repeatedly thrust into his anus as police forced him to confess to protesting without authorization and belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

    “The horrific abuse described by Mazen Mohamed Abdallah gives a sickening insight into the widespread and routine use of torture and ill-treatment by Egyptian security forces in police stations,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “That such abuse is meted out against children in detention is utterly deplorable.”

    December 10, 2015

    The Egyptian authorities’ continued detention of photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, exposes the rank hypocrisy behind their claim to uphold press freedom, Amnesty International said, ahead of the start of the photojournalist’s mass trial with 738 others on 12 December.

    In an open letter addressed to the Egyptian Public Prosecutor, the organization called for Mahmoud Abu Zeid to be released immediately and unconditionally, and for all charges against him to be dropped.

    “Mahmoud Abu Zeid is a prisoner of conscience who has spent more than two years - 848 days - in pre-trial detention solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

    “This 28 year-old-man should be free, not languishing behind bars as his health deteriorates. His journalism is not a crime.”

    Mahmoud Abu Zeid is suffering from Hepatitis C and has been denied access to essential medication. His lawyers have appealed to the Public Prosecutor at least 17 times for his release on medical grounds, without success.

    December 02, 2015

    Photojournalist, Mahmoud Abu Zeid (known as Shawkan), is passionate about taking pictures. He is now paying the price for his peaceful work and faces life imprisonment.

    Police arrested Mahmoud Abu Zeid in August 2013 after he photographed security forces’ violent dispersal of street protests in Cairo. Mahmoud Abu Zeid has been in detention ever since, in violation of Egyptian law that sets the maximum period for pre-trial detention at two years. He is the only Egyptian journalist to have been held beyond the two-year cap on pre-trial detention.

    Shawkan has been referred to Cairo’s Criminal Court to face trumped-up charges in a mass trial of 738 defendants. The first court session is set for December 12, and his lawyer has yet to be given access to the full casefile. Amnesty International considers Shawkan to be a prisoner of conscience and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release. 

    This is his latest letter from prison:

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