Leading figures across the trade union movement in Britain have thrown their weight behind a campaign in solidarity with journalist Hisham Fouad and lawyer Haitham Mohamedain who have been detained by Egypt’s military regime on trumped up charges. Trade Union Congress president Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists Michelle Stanistreet and Jane Loftus, president of the communication workers’ union CWU are among the signatures to a petition calling for Hisham and Haitham’s release which has gathered the support of over 200 trade union activists.
Other activists, journalists and political figures have been seized in the latest crackdown, including former Social Democratic Party MP Ziyad el-Alim, journalist and opposition party spokesman Hossam Moanis, accountant and labour rights activist Hassan al-Barbary, academic Omar el-Shenety, and Ahmed el-Akabawy, a founder of the opposition Istiqlal Party. Amnesty International has also strongly condemned the arrests of Hisham, Haitham and other activists. In a statement on 30 June, North Africa Director of Research Magdalena Mughrabi said:
The latest wave of arrests targeting critics, opposition leaders, activists and journalists under the guise of counterterrorism is part of the Egyptian authorities’ systematic persecution and brutal crackdown on anyone who dares to criticize them. The crackdown leaves no doubt about the authorities’ vision for political life in Egypt; an open-air prison with no opposition, critics or independent reporting allowed.”
>> Read the full list of launch signatories online and add your name here
Lawyer and journalist who fought for workers’ rights
Almost exactly a year after his previous arrest in 2018, labour lawyer Haitham Mohamedain has been detained again after being wrongfully accused of violating his probation terms after release from prison in October. On 13 May, he was summoned to the police station in Saf, south of Cairo, and detained without access to a lawyer, before being brought before prosecutors and remanded in custody for 15 days on charges of “aiding a terrorist group in achieving its goals”. Mostafa Maher, a former political activist was also detained separately, prompting fears of a fresh crackdown on the regime’s critics.
At least 8 other activists, including labour journalist Hisham Fouad were seized by security forces on 25 June. According to statement by the Egyptian interior ministry, they are facing charges of directing a “economic conspiracy” aimed at siphoning funds from 19 companies towards activities planned by the banned opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Former Social Democratic Party MP and lawyer Ziyad al-Alimi, and Omar El-Shenety, executive director of Multiples Group Investment Bank were reported to be among those arrested.
Another prominent figure seized in the raids was said to Hossam Moanis, who was campaign manager for Nasserist political leader Hamdeen Sabahy. Hisham Fouad is a well-known figure on the Egyptian left. A leading student activist in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he went on to play a key role in the mid-1990s in a campaign by young journalists to resist control of the Egyptian Journalists’ Union by media owners and managers. Over the following decades his journalism was vital in mobilising support for the workers’ movement, including for the independent unions which emerged in the late 2000s. Hisham was also a prominent organiser in the movement against war on Iraq in 2003 and in Palestine solidarity activism.
What you can do:
- Add your name to the statement and circulate to your networks
- Pass the solidarity resolution below
- Write to the Egyptian embassy in your country calling for the release of Hisham and Haitham and all other political prisoners in Egypt
- Download a leaflet here for use at meetings and protests [Haitham_Hisham_2019]
This union branch notes:
- That Haitham Mohamedain and Hisham Fouad have been detained by the Egyptian authorities for the peaceful expression of their political views.
This union branch resolves:
- To call for their immediate release, along with the release of all other political prisoners in Egypt in a letter of protest to the Egyptian embassy
- To distribute information about the solidarity campaign to members.
- To make a donation to Egypt Solidarity Initiative via MENA Solidarity Network to help with costs of producing campaign materials