Target: Hesham Mohamed Zaki Barakat, Public Prosecutor
Goal: Release three young women held solely for their participation in a peaceful protest
When violence erupted at a formerly peaceful protest at Mansoura University on November 12, 2013, students Abrar Al-Anany, Menatalla Moustafa, and Yousra Elkhateeb all fled, seeking safety from the violence in a classroom. However, the women were among the twenty-three students arrested that day, and they stand accused of a myriad of trumped-up charges, including “belonging to a banned organization using ‘terrorist’ methods,” “protesting without permission,” “thuggery,” “attacking security forces,” and “destroying public property.” Sign the petition and demand that the women be released immediately.
Al-Anany, Moustafa, and Elkhateeb participated in the peaceful protest at their university, but according to both witnesses and their lawyers, they left as soon as things became violent. The university has even issued a letter affirming the women’s innocence. However, authorities refuse to release the women, whose trials have been postponed several times. They “are being held with convicted prisoners who reportedly regularly harass and intimidate them and call them terrorists,” Amnesty International reports, and they are only allowed to see their families for about five minutes once a week.
To make matters worse, Menatalla Moustafa has epilepsy and has not been treated since her imprisonment. According to her family, she has had four seizures in less than a month. She was held with adult prisoners, despite being a minor at the time of her arrest.
Peaceful protest is not a crime, and it is clear from both witness reports and the university’s statement that Al-Anany, Moustafa, and Elkhateeb were not involved in any of the violent crimes of which they stand accused. They must be released immediately.
I am writing to urge the immediate release of Abrar Al-Anany, Menatalla Moustafa, and Yousra Elkhateeb, all of whom were arrested following the protests at Mansoura University of November 12, 2013. The women were in no way involved in the crimes of which they are accused, and their continued incarceration comes solely as a result of their peaceful expression of dissenting political views. I demand that they be set free immediately.
The women’s lawyers maintain that Al-Anany, Moustafa, and Elkhateeb participated in a peaceful protest but left as soon as it became violent, an assertion that is backed up by both eyewitness reports and a letter from the university affirming the women’s innocence. Despite ample evidence of their non-involvement, however, the women have been charged with a number of unlikely crimes, including “belonging to a banned organization using ‘terrorist’ methods,” “protesting without permission,” “thuggery,” “attacking security forces,” and “destroying public property.” They have been housed with convicted criminals as they await trial, and their court date has been postponed several times. Additionally, Menatalla Moustafa was only seventeen at the time of her arrest but was housed with adults, and she has been denied medical attention for her epilepsy.
There is absolutely no reason for three peaceful citizens to spend months in jail. I therefore demand that the charges against Abrar Al-Anany, Menatalla Moustafa, and Yousra Elkhateeb be dropped, and that they be immediately and unconditionally released.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Thutmosell via Wikimedia Commons