Five years in jail for protest detainees, take action in solidarity now

free_egyprisoners_FBcoverEgyptian judges handed down long jail terms to over 150 activists seized in the latest crackdown on protests over the transfer of the Tiran and Sanafir Islands to Saudi Arabia. 101 defendants were given five year jail sentences and 100,000 Egyptian pound fines, while in another case 51 defendants received two year jail sentences. Overall, more than 1300 people were detained during the recent crackdown, according to prisoners’ rights group Freedom for the Brave.

Mahmoud Ezzat, a revolutionary activist and human rights researcher Mohamed Nagy were among those sentenced to 5 years. Labour lawyer Haitham Mohamedain, who was arrested a few days before planned protests on 25 April, was due to appear before prosecutors on 18 May.

Conditions in Egypt’s overcrowded, filthy jails are horrific. In a letter smuggled out of prison Nagy Kamel, also sentenced to 5 years, describes how 48 political prisoners share a 60 metre square cell with a single toilet. The hot weather is making conditions particularly dangerous, as detainees swelter in 45 degree heat.

Meanwhile in a separate case, Sanaa Seif has been sent back to prison for failing to answer prosecutors’ questions after they summoned her in relation to the arrest of another activist. She said on her Facebook page:

“I’ve had the experience of dealing with the system as a plaintiff and as a defendant, and now I’m required to play, again, the role of the accused, and the lawyers are required to use up their energy defending me. Well, this time, I will not play along.”

Sanaa’s brother Alaa Abdelfattah is also serving a 5 year jail sentence for taking part in protest against military trials for civilians in 2013. Dr Ahmed Abdallah, legal advisor to the family of murdered Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni, is another detainee seized during the latest crackdown.

The support of European governments is crucial to the Egyptian regime. Although the Gulf states have bankrolled the counter-revolution directly, the governments of Germany, Italy, France and the UK have also backed Sisi’s repression, through trade deals or arms sales and security cooperation. David Cameron rolled out the red carpet for Sisi when he came to visit London in November 2015 and the UK government signed a new round of agreements over cooperation over security issues and higher education.

Take action now in solidarity with Egypt’s political prisoners: