Target: Hesham Mohamed Zaki Barakat, Public Prosecutor
Goal: Release three prisoners of conscience from detention, where they have been held in solitary confinement
The presence of new anti-protest laws in Egypt has already led to arrests, and three men–Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel, and Ahmed Douma–have been held as prisoners of conscience. Peaceful protest is an internationally-recognized human right. Sign the petition and demand that the Egyptian government release the men immediately if they cannot be charged with legitimate offenses.
The three men were recently convicted of “taking part in an unauthorized protest…’attacking the security forces, destroying public property and disturbing public order,'” Amnesty International reports. Under Egypt’s new protest laws, activists must submit detailed plans for any protests or demonstrations, and the government maintains the ability to unexpectedly cancel or reroute any such events.
The protest in question happened as Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma were inside the Abdeen Misdemeanors Court building. Maher was being questioned about his possible involvement with another unauthorized protest when his supporters began a demonstration outside the building that ended when security forces fired tear gas into the crowd. Maher and Douma were both arrested as a result. Meanwhile, Mohamed Adel was arrested following a raid on the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). He claims he was beaten at various points during his arrest and detention. Letters smuggled out of the prison also reveal that Ahmed Maher was “forbidden to read or write” and subjected to stale food and cold conditions. All three men have staged a hunger strike in protest of their treatment, and their lawyers tell Amnesty International that they have not had access to their clients since their convictions.
Peaceful political protest is an internationally-recognized human right and should not under any circumstances result in arrest. Furthermore, prisoners–no matter what their alleged crimes–are entitled to basic rights like adequate food, medical care, legal representation, and freedom from torture and ill-treatment. Sign the petition and demand that the Egyptian government respect the rights of Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel.
The detentions and subsequent convictions of Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel are travesties that violate several facets of international human rights laws. I therefore demand that the men be freed immediately.
Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma were convicted of taking part in a protest outside the Abdeen Misdemeanor Court that involved “attacking the security forces, destroying public property and disturbing public order,” Amnesty International reports–except at the time both men were inside the building being questioned about other incidents. Meanwhile, Mohamed Adel alleges that he was beaten during his arrest and detention. He was held incommunicado until his conviction.
All three men have been denied access to their lawyers since their convictions, making the appeals process more difficult. Ahmed Maher claims that he was “forbidden to read or write,” was served stale food, and was subjected to cold temperatures during his detention. Most recently, the men have embarked upon hunger strikes to protest their treatment in prison. This places their health–and their very lives–in danger.
Given the flimsiness of the charges under which the men were convicted, and given the ill-treatment they have been subjected to throughout their ordeal, I demand that the Egyptian government release Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel immediately and unconditionally.
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Photo credit: Muhammad Ghafari via Wikimedia Commons