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Opposition supporters arrested while distributing election flyers

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 30 October 2010 - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemns the continued illegitimate bias of the ministry of the interior towards National Democratic Party (NDP) candidates. In a recent crackdown, advocates of democratic reform were arrested while putting up banners calling for reform and opposing succession. Meanwhile, the ministry of the interior turns a blind eye as posters of the President's son are all over the country.

Security personnel arrested a number of people on 29 October as they were distributing flyers advocating for an opposition candidate and accused them of allegedly starting their propaganda campaign before the official launch date. At the same time, the streets are full of posters and banners advocating on behalf of NDP candidates and the government has not taken any action.

After the Friday noon mass prayers on 29 October, security personnel arrested 6 supporters of the leftist candidate of Hadayek ElQobba, Tarek el-Awady, including his son. The candidate's supporters were distributing a flyer calling on citizens to vote for Tarek when they were detained and escorted to a police station. Tarek went to the police station and asked the officer in charge to release them. His supporters were eventually released after a heated dispute between Tarek and the police. Tarek was warned not to start distributing campaigns materials before the official start date.

Security personnel also arrested five supporters of the Tagamoa party candidate in Ismailia, Ayman Galal, as they were distributing propaganda flyers. Ayman said that the Tagamoa party was targeted specifically as another party distributed flyers and its supporters were not arrested.

According to ANHRI, "The government has left no space for citizens and the opposition to express themselves. In this oppressive atmosphere, the opposition waits for the election period in order to present their programs to the public. However, the ministry of the interior is depriving the opposition of this opportunity by arresting them."

ANHRI added, "The government has to take positive steps against this unashamed police prejudice. If the opposition has to abide by an official start of the campaigning period, then the NDP has to commit to this as well and be penalized for breaching the agreements. This is not the first violation committed by the ministry of the interior against the opposition prior to public or presidential elections. The ministry of the interior earlier launched a harsh crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and the National Assembly for Change, thus extinguishing the hope for fair elections that are a reflection of the people's will."

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