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Stop arresting and abducting reform activists, says ANHRI

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 13 September 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) expresses its deep resentment at the frequent security assaults on activists. Individuals who call for democratic reform have been abducted or legally pursued on fabricated charges while advocating for change and enjoying their right to express themselves peacefully.

Egypt has recently celebrated Eid AlFitr and yet has witnessed several incidents of the abduction of activists who support reform. The first assault occurred when the Egyptian State Security Intelligence (SSI) abducted Amr Salah, a researcher at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), at dawn on 9 September. They arrested him near his house, physically assaulted him and escorted him to an unknown location without pressing charges, referring him to prosecution or revealing his fate. He was released on the afternoon of 10 September.

On the first day of Eid AlFitr, 10 September, the SSI arrested Walid Shawki of the April 6th movement while he was distributing a seven-item reform statement. The arrest took place right after a feast prayer in the early morning. Shawki was charged with inciting to overthrow the government and his case was referred to the courts. He was released on 11 September following an investigation into the charges against him. At the same time, Ahmed Eid, a member of the steering committee of the Democratic Front Party, was abducted on 10 September for supporting democratic reform and calling for signatures for the reform statement. He was released on 12 September.

SSI has been committing such assaults against activists ever since they publicised their manifesto of seven requirements for democratic reform and began calling on the Egyptian public to sign the reform statement. SSI previously arrested many activists throughout Egypt, revealing the government's intention to oppress and persecute possible competitors in the upcoming public and presidential elections.

ANHRI said, "What happened at Eid AlFitr, during one of the most significant religious feasts in Egypt, is that aside from being a clear violation against the right to free expression and a clear encroachment on national laws and legislation, it shows how the Minister of the Interior has flouted the feelings of Egyptians. He turned the feast days into sad ones for the families of the abducted activists. Although the government has released them, this does not absolve it of violating their rights and terrorizing people who call for democracy".

ANHRI believes the public prosecution should intervene to stop such practices against activists and conduct an inquiry into the abductions and illegal detention of activists. The prosecution also has to stop believing the charges that the SSI fabricates against activists. The prosecution should investigate those responsible for the abduction and fabrication of charges, instead of investigating Egyptian citizens for engaging in peaceful activities that do not violate the laws or the constitution.

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