After a long international campaign for their release, Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif walked free from Qanater Prison last week after receiving a presidential pardon. They were arrested after a march against draconian anti-protest laws was attacked and broken up by the police and armed thugs on 21 June 2014 and sentenced to two years in jail. A further 18 defendants in the same case are also reported to have been pardoned.
Alexandrian poet Omar Hazeq, sentenced in the same case as Mahienour el-Masry and 8 others for assaulting police officers in February 2015 was also pardoned, although Mahienour remains behind bars.
Meanwhile Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, along with their co-defendant Shady Abdel-Hamid were released earlier in the week. They were pardoned by Egyptian president Abdelfattah al-Sisi after receiving three year sentences in July this year in another case which sparked worldwide condemnation.
Human rights organisations and detainees’ families called for the release of the thousands of others who remain unjustly detained. For Sanaa Seif, that includes her brother Alaa Abdelfattah, sentenced to 5 years in a separate case earlier this year. The FreeSanaa campaign said in a statement on its Facebook page on Thursday:
Today the family will visit Alaa in Prison and, for the first time in over a year, Sanaa will be with them. Two girls sentenced with Sanaa, Salwa and Nahid, are yet to be released. They and 50 other pardoned prisoners who are still in detention are not with their families this Eid. Likewise, the thousands of unjustly detained who did not receive a presidential pardon.
Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) said:
While welcoming the release of Yara and Sanaa, we deplore that other human rights defenders such as Mahienour El-Massry or Alaa Abdel-Fattah remain behind bars for their legitimate human rights activities. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all human rights defenders detained throughout the country and for an immediate end of the authorities’ crackdown on dissident voices
What you can do:
- Sign our statement against the visit of Egyptian dictator Abdelfattah el-Sisi online here
- Pass this #sisinotwelcome_model_motion through your trade union or student union
- Write to the Egyptian embassy calling for the release of all political prisoners