A leading activist in the Egyptian Doctors’ Union was snatched from his home in a dawn raid on 14 January. Dr Taher Mokhtar, a member of the union’s Rights and Freedoms Committee was arrested along with Ahmed Hassan and Hossam al-Din al-Hamady and taken to Abdin police in Cairo for interrogation by National Security officers. Their detention was renewed for four days on 15 January in order to give prosecutors more time to interrogate them on charges of “possessing publications calling for the overthrow of the regime”.
Taher is a well-known health activist and one of the organisers of the doctors’ strikes of 2011-2014. The revolution of 2011 sparked a wave of organising in public hospitals across Egypt, with doctors leading the fight to win increased funding for public health care and better conditions for health workers through a series of major strikes. Taher was elected onto the Higher Strike Committee for the 2012 and 2014 national strikes, which saw thousands of doctors take partial action to demand the implementation of a national pay scale and a rise in the health budget.
He has also played a key role in campaigns to win justice for victims of police violence, including Khaled Said, the young man whose murder in an Alexandrian internet cafe in 2010 shocked Egypt. Taher was badly beaten by the police in December 2013 who attacked a small, peaceful protest calling for justice for Khaled Said outside the court hearing against his killers. When Taher’s friend and fellow activist, lawyer and Revolutionary Socialist Mahienour el-Masry was handed a jail sentence for taking part in the protest and he has campaigned tirelessly for her release. Mahienour was just one of the many political activists Taher has fought to free, however. He has spoken out against the repression of opposition across the political spectrum, condemning the use of military trials, torture and forced disappearances by Sisi’s military regime as it attempts to stifle all dissent.
What you can do:
- Write to the Egyptian ambassador in your country calling for the immediate release of Taher Mohktar and his colleagues and for any charges against them to be dropped.