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Teachers arrested at sit-in acquitted

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo 19 June 2011 - Human rights organizations signing this press release welcomed today the acquittal, issued by the First Misdemeanor Court in Nasr City, of teachers who were arrested under the sit-in incrimination law that the Military Council had enacted.

The two teachers, Atef Imam and Hamada Karn, were under investigation for their participation in a public sit-in while the emergency law was still in force. A number of teachers demonstrated at a sit-in on 12 June 2011, in front of the Organization and Administration Office in Nasr City, calling for their official appointment after they had been working for 14 years without a contract.

ANHRI, the Hisham Mubarak Center for Law, the Egyptian Right to Education Center, Freedom Center and the Committee for the Defense of Freedom in Bar Association teamed up to defend the accused teachers who were later acquitted by the First Misdemeanor Court in Nasr City in the session held on 19 June.

The hearing also nullified the violence-related charges against the two teachers. ANHRI Legal Aid Unit lawyers stressed that the peaceful sit-in should be seen as a genuine human right and not a crime punishable by law.

The organizations said: "The acquittal today proved that the law criminalizing sit-ins is unfair, and that a peaceful sit-in is a legal way to express opinions, and that it should not be restricted under any law or circumstances." Also the organizations noted that this sentence is the first of its type to be issued in such a case, which will pave the way for more acquittal verdicts in such cases.

Therefore, these human rights organizations demand that the Council Of Ministers and the Military Council abolish this law and provide ways to receive people's complaints. Also they ask the Military Council to network with laborers, students, employees and all groups that have been suffering from a loss of rights for decades, in a way that guarantees their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful gatherings.

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