Human rights organizations: Dangerous accusations against ECRF members
The undersigned human rights organization and figures condemn the continued preventive detention of Engineers Ahmed Abdallah, the Head of Board of Trustees of ECRF, and Engineer Mina Thabet, Religious Minorities and Marginalized Groups Program Director, and others in case No. 10698 of year 2016, Misdemeanor Court of Ain Shams. And call for their release as the court session for the renewal of their preventive detention will take place on 5 June.
The misdemeanor court of Ain Shams decided on 21 May 2016 had decided on extending detenion of Ahmed Abdallah, Mina Thabet, Abdel-Rahman Hamza, Mahmoud Hesham, Mohamed El-Said, and Ali Mohamed Ahmed for 15 days pending investigations.
This case was set up over the protests of April 25, 2016, known as "protest for the land" as security forces carried out mass arrests from hokmes and coffee shops in advance of the protests against the presidential decree redrawing eastern borders of Egypt handing over “Tiran and Sanafir” Islands to Saudi Arabia.
On Monday, April 25, 2016, at 3 in the morning, security forces broke into Mr. Ahmad Abdallah’s house in the Fifth Settlement district. Accordingly, they transferred him to New Cairo police station, which referred him to the East Cairo Prosecution. Consequently, the prosecution accused him with several charges, and decided on his imprisonment. The prosecution has been extending the period of detention since then. Mr. Abdallah has been facing several charges including inciting the use of force to overthrow the republican system, incitement for attacking police stations, use of violence and threats to force the President to refrain from exercising his statutory powers and duties, belonging to a terrorist group, indirectly promoting ways, through the world wide web, of terrorist offenses, the use of one of the world wide websites to promote ideas calling for committing terrorist acts in a bid to deceive the public, incitement for public gathering and protests, diffusion of news, information and false rumors that disrupt public security, possession of leaflets calling for overthrowing the regime and changing the constitution.
There are many similarities with Mr. Mina Thabet who faced a no different situation. Few days following Mr. Abdallah’s arrest, on May 19, 2016, security forces broke into Mr. Thabet’s house in assaulted him, then transferred him in a provate Alexandria car, to Al- Salam police station, which in return referred him to the East Cairo Prosecution, which charged him with the same charges as Mr. Abdallah. Accordingly, the prosecution decided into continuing his arrest for 4 days.
On 21 May 2016, a court examined the detention of Ahmed Abdallah, Mina Thabet, Mahmoud Hesham, Abdel-Rahman Hamza, and Ali Mohamed Ahmed. The court extended the detention for a period of 15 days. Prosecution had decided previously to release on bail a number of co-defendants.
The aforementioned fake accusations became a major weapon by which security forces punish and terrorize human rights defenders in Egypt. The authorities have used the new counter-terrorism law to suppress human rights defenders and those who exercise their legitimate and constitutional rights of freedom of association and freedom of opinion and expression. Human rights defenders are facing a tightening and threatening situation in Egypt, a large number of them were subjected to injustice and inhumane treatment during the past two months of April and May. For instance, the human rights researcher Mohamed Nagi, was sentenced to 5 years in prison along with others over protesting on April 25, 2016, and a fine of 100 Thousands Egyptian Pounds. On appeal the sentence was alleviated to the fine only. Moreover, security forces also arrested lawyers Malek Adly and Haitham Mohamaden, and others in horrendous conditions that negatively affect their physical, mental and psychological health.
Most detainees are accused of the same charges, which include incitement for protests, belonging to a terrorist group, diffusion false rumors and news. This attack against civil society in Egypt and defenders for rights and freedoms reached an unprecedented level of repression and restrictions, which highly threaten the existence and sustainability civil society in Egypt.
Arresting two of ECRF staff members is not the first incident of its kind. Last year, Mr. Mohamed Lotfy, ECRF Executive Board Director, was banned from traveling. Moreover, a group of researchers from the same organization faced detention before as a result for conducting a fieldwork in El- Kosos area as part of a larger work scheme of developing one of its districts.
Therefore, the undersigned human rights organizations and figures demand the immediate and unconditional release of Ahmed Abdallah, Mina Thabet, from ECRF, and the other defenders, and dropping all charges against them. And call for the release of all detained persons for their exercise of their right to freedom of expression such as peaceful protesters. They also demand the Egyptian authorities to stop its reprisal policies against human rights defenders whether they are organizations or individuals and to respect human rights and freedoms that were stated by the Egyptian constitution, also protected by the international conventions, especially the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Egyptian human rights organizations:
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- Nadim center for rehabilitation of victims of violence
- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
- Hisham Mubarak Law Center
- Center for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance
- ADALAH Center for Rights and Freedoms
- Arab Foundation for Civil and Political Rights -NEDAL
- Nazra for Feminist Studies
- Foundation of the Victims of Abduction and Forced Disappearance
- League of Families of the Enforcedly Disappeared in Egypt
- Arab human rights organizations:
- Bahrain Center for Human Rights - Bahrain
- European-Bahrain Organisation for Human Rights - Bahrain
- Salam for Democracy and Human Rights - Bahrain
- Yemen Organisation for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms - Yemen
- Mwatana Organization for Human Rights - Yemen
- Kuwait Watch for Human Rights - Kuwait
- Saudi Organization for Rights and Freedoms – Saudi Arabia
- Monitor of Human Rights in Oman - Oman
- Tamkeen Fields for Aid - Jordan
- Human Rights Defenders from the Arabic region
- Nabil Rajab - Bahrain
- Fadi Al-Qadi - Jordan
- Moataz El Fegiery - Egypt
- Ahmad Mansour - UAE