Egypt: Hunger Strike in Qanater Women’s Prison

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Since the State Security Prosecution Department banned visits for Dr Basma, she started a hunger strike a week ago.

However, the Qanater prison administration, here, ignored her protest and pleas completely. Consequently, we – her mates in Qanater Prison – have decided to show solidarity by joining her hunger strike.

We are:

Mahinour Al-Masry

Rafidah Ibrahim

Alaa Alsayed

Asmaa Syed Salah

Esraa Khaled

Rana Abdullah

Sarah Abdullah

Despite differences in our ideological orientations and intellectual affiliations, we will not give up the right of any detainee.

Therefore, we decided to start a hunger strike, here in prison, until Dr Basma is given her most basic human right – to see her children.

We will continue our strike until the implementation of the court’s decision to allow her visiting rights. Although some of us already suffer ill health, and Dr Basma is undergoing important heart check-ups, the prison administration continues to refuse formal complaints and statements to prove the hunger strike action. This makes us wonder: “Is it carelessness? Or orders from National Security (State Police)?!”

We suspect National Security (State Police) intervention in the non-implementation of the court’s decision. Hence, we will continue our strike, insisting on our demand, until the end.

People of conscience and goodwill understand that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Dr Basma suddenly found both herself and her husband accused in a big sham lawsuit, deprived of seeing their two young children, who have no-one to look after them.

Let us hope the voice of conscience, humanity and justice will be louder than all voices of injustice and oppression.

Qanater Female Political Prisoners

Egypt: Luxor residents set fire, hurl stones at police cars

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CAIRO, May 14 (Aswat Masriya) –  A number of residents of the Luxor district of Tiba have set two police cars on fire and hurled stones at the officers, the interior ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry added in statements to state-run news agency MENA, that additional security forces were sent to the site of the incident to “control and disperse” the angry crowd.

According to the ministry’s narrative, security forces were investigating a report in the Tiba, Luxor police station, when they noticed a motorcycle passing by without license plates and arrested the two men riding the vehicle.

Angered by the arrest, the residents gathered and began throwing stones at the officers and setting fire to the police cars.

The ministry denied media reports that residents of one of the Tiba villages detained two of the officers.

The ministry said that it will take the necessary legal procedures, and notify public prosecution to begin investigating the incident.

Several incidents of police brutality have sparked anger among different sects of people over the past few months.

In April, a low-ranking policeman shot dead a tea vendor and injured two more people, in the upscale suburban neighbourhood of Rehab, after a quarrel over his refusal to pay for a cup of tea.

The incident was preceded by another in February when a policeman shot dead a driver in the Downtown neighbourhood of al-Darb al-Ahmar over the cost of loading goods.

Police brutality was one of the triggers of the Jan. 25, 2011 uprising, sparked by protests on Police Day in Egypt aimed to draw attention to the police’s use of excessive, at times fatal, violence.

Global Solidarity With The Refugees

By Yazan Al-Saadi & Elia El Khazen

al-Manshour

We know all the numbers that need to be known.

We are aware of all the ratios of refugees to citizens in every country, from Lebanon to the UK, Libya to Greece, Macedonia to Canada.

We have seen all of the ruling class directly blame the refugees for their own policies’ shortcomings. The “refugee crisis” they insultingly call it, as if these desperate men, women, children and elderly were but a oncoming storm or a swarm of locus, an act of nature.

We have seen them channel the legitimate anger of workers towards acts of islamophobia, racism and petty nationalism, blaming the “other” for what neoliberalism’s destruction, gleefly utilized by legions of ruling elites, have brought onto us.

We have stood firm against the attempt of many authorities, and their ilk, to smear refugees entering various countries, describing them as an “invasion”. This label in particular is especially revolting when it in fact was various forms of historical and contemporary invasions, instigated, armed and politically covered by our own countries, that are why refugees were, and to continue to be, fleeing from their homes.

We have witnessed respective governments launch grenades and tear gas, fire rubber bullets and live rounds at refugees. We have witnessed these authorities watch silently as refugees helplessly sank in their boats, or cornered the refugees in pathetic ‘reception centers’ encircled by barbwire and are checkpoints. Any parallels with concentration camps arising from these scenes are clearly excused and to be expected.

These authorities have unashamedly denied paperwork, basic rights and services, affronted human dignity by their common use of torture, detention without trial, murder by negligence, and their constant vomiting of absolute hate against vulnerable refugees.

Our own government in Lebanon has gone even further by implementing a sponsorship system in which visa is only granted if tied to a property owning Lebanese citizen. Syrian refugees registered by UNHCR are forced to sign pledges not to work and to return to Syria when their expensive permits expire or when the Lebanese government demands it. Syrian refugees, and other so-called foreigners of the lower class, are subjected to illegal curfews that pepper the most affluent quarters of the country. These classist measures will only serve to compound abuses that are already burdening refugee communities.

As the Balkan route has been shut to more than 40,000 refugees and rendered their lives similar to the wretched squalor of Calais refugee camps in France, over a million refugees in Lebanon live under equally dire conditions every day. Already, as various reports have shown, the restrictive system has caused over 70 percent of Syrian refugees to fall below the poverty line. Many of them work in dangerous conditions for mediocre pay, with little to no benefits or legal protections, and they are in constant threat of arrest. Large numbers of Syrian refugees are trapped in a cycle of debt and indentured servitude, in addition to suffering from daily emotional, sexual, and physical abuses, in a nation that does not allow them free mobility within its borders.

Ultimately, the Syrian refugees are being punished for the Syrian revolution, an uprising that has captivated the world and polarized most of the ideological Left.

The traditional and Stalinist Left, both in the Arab world and in the West, have helped carry the message of Bashar el-Assad, which demonized courageous Syrian communities who rose up against his brutal and illegitimate regime. The echo his claims of a “security threat”, while others have repeated the horrendous discourse that these refugees are a ‘weapon’ in the hands of armed groups. While there are many different groups to blame, it is the Left, especially, that have made these refugees easy pray for neighboring and Western governments to ostracize, marginalize and exploit in the most offensive and inhuman ways.

This xenophobic discourse has also encouraged distracting competition between migrant workers and local workers, who are tricked into clashes with each other over mere scraps that fall off the ruling class’s bountiful table. In such a time, when the Leftist solidarity is needed most with the refugees, many of its members have betrayed the inherent principles under the justification of pragmatism and political allegiances. They can defend themselves in whatever way they think fit, but the fact of the matter remains: they are useful idiots for power-holders of today’s status quo.

A plethora of iNGOs and local NGOs are also partners in enabling this grotesque state of affairs, in which their actions have permitted the ruling class to reap the benefits of the absence of local states when it comes to services. INGOs and NGOs mainly turn a blind eye as oppression remains supreme, and only seek to offer cold comforts and small bandages to deep, deep wounds. For these organizations, it is the donor that is the priority rather than the refugees.

In the new chapter of the War on Refugees, the Lebanese government, along with its Turkish and Greek counterparts, have signed on to be foot-soldiers at the gateway to “Fortress Europe”. These ‘minions’ of the European strongholds are guilty of crackdowns on refugees merely to appease ridiculous European notions of “the spillover effect” of the Syrian revolution that threaten their tightly-held shores.

This is essentially why governmental aid are tied to magnitude of crackdowns, the ferociousness of security batons cracking skulls, and the containment of refugees in the not Western, ‘Global South’ parts of the world. The politicization of aid is but one cog in this dark machine. It will only result in the creation and furthering of more and more informal, abusive conditions for refugees, for children, for countless men and women.

For all these reasons and so much more, this Saturday is the first time since last year, when refugees stubbornly and rightly broke through Europe’s ever-expanding walls, that mass movements across 15 European countries along with Lebanon and Australia have coordinated various demonstrations to show solidarity with refugees in all places.

Join our call for solidarity. Organize in your city against the oppression, crackdown and scapegoating of refugees by your authorities. Challenge discrimination in all its forms.

Only solidarity prevails in the face of xenophobia, islamophobia, racism, sexism and classism.

Long live the refugee, the 21st century’s vanguard, who challenges the tapestry of repression by simple acts, and by their very humble existence.

Refugees of the world, we are with you. Refugees of the world, unite.

Egyptian Detainees Turn To Hunger Strikes

Families of Aqrab detainees protest against worsening visiting conditions. Feb. 18, 2016 (ASWAT MASRIYA/Jihad Abaza)

By Jihad Abaza

CAIRO, Feb. 19 (Aswat Masriya) Radwa Khairi has come to accept that her father is imprisoned. “This is fate,” she said. Yet, Khairi cannot come to terms with the visits that last from five to seven minutes bi-monthly, if prison administrators even allow them at all.

“Visits are through glass windows, and the phones sometimes don’t work well, and there is no touching allowed at all,” Khairi said, adding that the last time she was able to shake her father’s hand was immediately after the state affiliated National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) made a visit to the notorious Aqrab prison, which is often referred to as “Egypt’s Guantanamo.”

On Thursday, families of the Aqrab detainees gathered on the stairs of the Journalists’ Syndicate, to announce detainees’ hunger strikes, and to demand an end to what they have described as “humiliating” visiting conditions. Security forces stood on the other side of the street, in uniform and civilian clothing, watching the protest and filming with cell phones.

“Abdalla Karam Daoud is on full hunger strike and [officers] threatened him that if he does not end it, they will arrest his mother. He is 18 years old,” one of the protesters, who refused to be named, told Aswat Masriya.

Other protesters stated that most of the hunger-strikes began shortly after Jan. 25, which also marked the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Uprising that led former president Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Ayah Alaa, the wife on one of the Aqrab detainees, told Aswat Masriya that there are approximately 150 detainees in Aqrab that are either on full hunger strike or partial hunger strike.

This number is, however, a rough estimate. “Our only connection [with the detainees] is through visits, so we find out about the hunger strikes from families of other inmates… [the detainee] will tell them, for example,  that he is on hunger strikes with six other people,” Alaa said adding that this is how families keep count of the number of strikes inside Aqrab.

There are approximately 1,000 detainees in Aqrab one, where most of the hunger strikers are imprisoned. Yet many of Aqrab two detainees are also overwhelmed by violations, despite not yet turning to strikes as a form of protest.

Prison administrators moved Ahmed Said to solitary confinement. Security arrested Said in November 2015 at a demonstration commemorating the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, when police killed dozens of protesters in 2012.

“No one has seen Ahmed for over 70 hours and no one knows anything about him,” Said’s sister Lamia said on Friday. She has heard from other families who have visited eye witness inmates that officers beat her brother and have condemned him to a month without food or visits, she told Aswat Masriya.

Meanwhile,  Maj. Gen. Hassan al-Sohagi, the Interior Ministry official responsible for prisons, told Aswat Masriya that no prisoners were on hungerstrike.

The Hunger Strikers

Amr Rabee and Sayed Ali have been on full hunger strike for up to six days, their lawyer Mohamed Nassef told Aswat Masriya.

Rabee is a Cairo university student who disappeared after being arrested from a Cairo neighborhood on March 11, 2014, Amnesty International had said in a 2014 statement condemning enforced disappearances.

After they had filed a report at the Public Prosecutor’s office, Rabee’s family received a phone call from a released prisoner who informed them that Rabee was detained in al-Azouly military prison, and that he could no longer move his left arm after being subjected to extensive torture. The saw Rabee for the first time since his arrest two months later on May 17, when he was brought before an East Cairo Prosecutor’s Office and were surprised to see that the official case file claimed that Rabee was arrested from Haram on May 17.

Rabee’s lawyer said that Rabee’s arm is slowly getting better after his shoulder was paralyzed, yet prison conditions remain onerous. Rabee is on hunger strike because the Aqrab prison administration has “banned visits, sports, and all of [the detainees’] rights are considered lost… no clothes, no blankets, and their bodies do not see the sun.”

As for Sayed Ali, popularly known as Sayed Mushagheb and one of the leading figures in the rebellious Ultras White Knights football fan group, was initially detained in Torah prison.

“He was arbitrarily moved and separated from his friends so that [the officers] could distress him, and to break his spirits they dressed him blue, which is for detainees who have already received sentences but his is a pre-trial detention so he is supposed to wear white,” Nassef said.

Rabee is currently held in Aqrab one, while Aly is in Aqrab two. Rabee is charged with belonging to Ansar Beit al-Maqdes, a militant group that has claimed a number of attacks in Cairo and Sinai while Aly is charged with attacking a National Security building in Nasr City.

Both deny the charges and deem them fabricated.

Since the military ouster of Mohamed Musri, following mass protests against his rule, and subsequently the ascendence of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi into presidency, hundreds have vanished without a trace. As though swallowed by the state, many are falling victim to Egypt’s growing phenomenon of enforced disappearance.

Security officials, usually in civilian clothing,”grab them from the street or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are,” as Amnesty International has described it. Their names are withheld from all prison records until, if they are lucky, they one day appear in front of public prosecution and are handed charges.

“Islam saw that his hunger strike is the only way that he can send his voice out across prison walls, and to send the message that prison kills all that is good,” the detainee support group Freedom of the Brave, wrote on behalf of Islam Khalil, who had disappeared for 122 days before his family found him locked up.

Inspiration

Hunger strikes in Egypt have come in waves over the past three years, and one cannot predict how long they may continue. Palestinian prisoners, which may have been an initial inspiration for their Egyptian counterparts, have been protesting their detentions in Israel’s prison system through hunger strikes for decades.

Ibrahim al-Yamany, went on hunger strike twice since he was arrested in 2013, the first time for 89 days and the second time for 574 days after which he switched to a partial hunger strike, his brother Aabed al-Yamany said.

“Because he knows he is innocent,” was Aabed’s initial response to the question of why his brother chose to protest his detention.

According to Aabed, at the moment the effect of Palestinian hunger-strikers on al-Yamany is not quite as strong because he does not get news of them inside his detention.

Yet Al-Yamany did know about Samer Issawi, a Palestinian who refused food from Israeli prison authorities for 266 days.

“Before these events Samer Issawi had an impact on him and his release made them believe that the idea may work,” Aabed said in reference both to his brother and Abdullah al-Shamy and Mohamed Soltan, both of whom had endured long term hunger strikes, backed by strong media campaigns, before eventually getting released.

Al-Yamany’s hunger strike has yet to bear the fruits of its labour, “Abdallah al-Shamy and Soltan surely have had an effect on him to endure these two periods,” Aabed said.

US-Backed Egypt Regime Murders 24-year-old Taxi Driver Mohamed Ali Ismail

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The killing sparked a protest by residents at the Cairo security directorate

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Ahram Online

Thursday 18 Feb 2016

A low-ranking policeman killed a citizen “by mistake” in Cairo’s impoverished and populated neighborhood El-Darb Al-Ahamr, Egypt’s interior ministry said on Thursday.

“A low-ranking policeman was accompanying his relative to buy some goods and when both were uploading goods to a taxi, they had a fight with the taxi driver,” Cairo’s security directorate said in a statement.

“The policeman pulled his gun to end the fight but a bullet came out of the gun by mistake, killing the taxi driver.”

The taxi driver is 24-year-old Mohamed Ali Ismail, whose body was transferred to Cairo’s Ahmed Maher hospital. The general prosecution is investigating the incident.

According to local news reports, El-Darb El-Ahmar residents staged an impromptu protest at the nearby Cairo security directorate.

“A large number of people gathered in an attempt to catch the policeman but he managed to escape,” a security source told Ahram’s Arabic news website.

General Khaled Abdel Mataal, the head of the security directorate, met the victim’s sister at the directorate to offer his condolences. He promised to arrest the policeman, who is still at large, according to Ahram.

Activists’ detention renewed, call to revoke Wael Ghoneim’s nationality dismissed

Policemen and people walk in front of the main gate of Tora prison, where former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli are held at, in the outskirts of Cairo June 4, 2012. Egypt's general prosecutor lodged an appeal on Sunday against the acquittal of six senior police officials charged with the killing of protesters during the uprising against Mubarak, an assistant to the prosecutor said. Mubarak and al-Adli were sentenced to life in prison on Saturday for their role in the killings. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh  (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)

Policemen and people walk in front of the main gate of Tora prison, where former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli are held at, in the outskirts of Cairo June 4, 2012. Egypt’s general prosecutor lodged an appeal on Sunday against the acquittal of six senior police officials charged with the killing of protesters during the uprising against Mubarak, an assistant to the prosecutor said. Mubarak and al-Adli were sentenced to life in prison on Saturday for their role in the killings. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh (EGYPT – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CRIME LAW)

Cairo, Jan 17 (Aswat Masriya) – A Cairo judge decided on Sunday to renew detention of Taher Mokhtar, a member of the Freedoms Committee in the Doctor’s Syndicate, and two others for 15 days pending investigations.

The three defendants, arrested on Jan.14, are accused of possessing leaflets calling for the overthrow of the regime. The leaflets featured content criminalising medical negligence in prisons coupled with calls to reform the health sector and demands to overthrow the current government, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

Homeland security claimed their investigations indicated that the detained individuals were attempting to incite citizens to join protests on Jan. 25, which marks the annivesary of a popular uprising that toppled then-President Hosni Mubarak after he ruled the country for 30 years.

The Cairo Administrative Court also rejected on Sunday a lawsuit filed by a lawyer who sought to revoke the Egyptian citizenship from political activist Wael Ghoneim.

Lawyer Samir Sabry accused Ghoneim of working for the “external forces” that “control and protect him.”

Ghoneim became a popular figure after the January 25 uprising. He was one of the co-founders of the well-known Facebook page created to criticise police brutality, “We are all Khaled Said”, set up in memory of a young man who was beaten to death while in police custody in June 2010.

On Saturday police forces arrested ِAhmed Youssef, a photojournalist, as he was taking a photograph of the trees next to Cairo University. Police accused him of photographing “police facilities”, in reference to police vehicle that was in the area. He was released on Sunday without any charges, according to AFTE.

Security officers also stormed the privately-owned Masr al-Arabia news website and arrested its managing editor on Jan. 14. He was released the day after pending investigations.

Egyptian poet and novelist Omar Hazek was also prevented from travelling to the Netherlands to attend the Writers Unlimited Festival, where he was set to receive the Oxfam Novib/PEN Awards for Freedom of Expression in a ceremony.

Hazek previously spent two years in prison before he was pardoned among 100 others last September by virtue of a presidential decree.

The arrests and court decisions came a little over a week before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, which toppled former president Honsi Mubarak in 2011.

Egyptian Women Protest Minister Of Justice’s Decree On “Summer Marriages” Phenomenon

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 1:33 PM

Women protest violence against women in front of the Journalists’ Syndicate.

CAIRO Dec. 23, (Aswat Masriya) A group of 15 young women stood on the steps of the Journalists’ Syndicate on Tuesday night with black make-up around their eyes, to symbolize bruises, and signs that read, “No to violence against women.”

Aya Hosny, one of the organisers of the small protest told Aswat Masriya that the point was to oppose a new law issued by the minister of justice that “legalizes touristic marriages,” and to oppose all the types of violence that women are exposed to in shapes and forms.

Earlier this month, the minister of justice issued decree No. 9200 for the year 2015, requiring that foreign men pay 50,000 Egyptian pounds in investment certificates at the National Bank of Egypt if they wish to marry women 25 or more years younger than they are.

The decree was met with a lot of criticism from women, activists, and human and women’s rights organizations that stated the law is legalizing and facilitating what are called seasonal summer marriages or “touristic marriages” in Egypt.

The term references the phenomenon of wealthy foreign men, primarily from Gulf countries, marrying much younger Egyptian women, usually temporarily, over the summer.

Hegazy described the law in a comment to Aswat Masriya, as a decision “to sell Egyptian girls in slave markets.”

Lawyer Rabab Abdu, vice president of the Egyptian Society to Support Juveniles and Human Rights, previously said that the minister’s decision to “put a price tag on touristic marriages” flies in the face of efforts to combat human trafficking.

“Now these women can marry these men, who are decades older, only on condition that the men can afford the price. This takes place in a legal setting, with the blessing of the ministry of justice,” she told Aswat Masriya earlier.

The protest came shortly after an international awareness campaign entitled “16 days of activism against gender-based violence,” which has taken place every year from 25 November to 10 December, since 1991.

Hegazy clarified that she chose this date, after the end of the campaign, so that action for ending violence against women can continue all throughout the year.

Hala Hassan, one of the protesters, told Aswat Masriya that she was subjected to physical violence and humiliation from her now ex-husband. She added that he is unemployed and has not provided her or their child with financial support since their separation.

“I wish that the law could punish and jail any man who hits his wife, and that men in Egypt learn to respect women,” she said.

More than 30% of ex-wives in Egypt have been exposed to physical violence at the hands of their husbands, according to a Demographic Health Survey in Egypt for 2014, the state-owned Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics announced in November.

Hegazy added that the group of protestors are not driven by any political parties, or factions, but that she and a group of her journalist colleagues created this event on Facebook. The protest also received approval from the ministry of interior, the event said.

(1 dollar = 7.73 Egyptian pounds)