مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)
“The Detainee of All Ages” is a book written by the engineer and communist fighter Fawzi Habashi, in which he describes the experience of political arrests during the eras of Abdel Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak. If we take a look at the Egyptian revolution’s generation, we will find a group of Egyptian political activists who can have the same description, such as Ahmed Douma, Mahinour Al-Masry and others, but perhaps the best representative of the modern history between political activity and prisons is Alaa Abdel-Fattah.
Alaa, who was born on November 18, 1981, is the eldest son of the human rights lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Seif Al-Islam Ahmed, one of the founders of the Legal Aid Center and then Hisham Mubarak Center after him, who is considered by most human rights workers in Egypt as their spiritual father, and the son of Dr. Laily Soueif, the famous political activist, one of the founders of The Working Group for the Independence of Universities (the March 9 Movement) and the Egyptian Anti-Torture Association. He is the older brother of both activists Mona and Sana Seif. This family was known in Egyptian political circles as the “Holy Family” for its continuous struggle against the successive Egyptian authorities and for its imprisonment in various eras.
Alaa began his political career in 2004 by launching his blog “Manal and Alaa’s Information Bucket”, in partnership with his ex-wife, Manal Bahey El-Din, this blog’s purpose was to spread news outside the official framework of the media to escape the means of censorship, and won the Reporters Without Borders award.
The beginning of Alaa’s series of prison visits was on May 7, 2006, while he was participating in one of the activities of the Kefaya movement to support the independence movement of the judiciary, which was the center of focus at that time. The arrest of Alaa steered a huge anger in political circles, so the blog “Free Alaa” was founded, which turned into a phrase associated with his name for many years to come, until he was released on June 20, 2006.
Alaa’s dream to help build the civil and democratic state that he dreamed of did not last long, after the massacre carried out by the ruling military council in October 2011 against the Egyptian Christians in front of the radio and television building in Maspero, one of the regime’s journalists submitted a false report announcing that she saw Alaa steal a “tank” and kill the protesters, which led to Alaa’s summon to question him before the Military Prosecution, as a result of a massive campaign against trying civilians before the military courts after the revolution, Alaa refused to make any statements in the investigations, adhering to his right to question him as a civilian before the civil and not military courts, which led to his imprisonment again on October 30, 2011 until the military administration complied and referred Alaa before a Supreme State Security’s prosecutor, which initiated investigations until he was released by the investigative judge on December 25, 2011, after he was deprived of attending the birth of his only son, “Khaled”, who was named after the icon of the Egyptian revolution, the martyr Khaled Said.
The situation did not change much in light of the first elected civilian president, “Mohamed Morsi,” who despite the support of Alaa and many political activists in the run-off against what was described as the former regime candidate Ahmed Shafiq, the Morsi regime turned against its supporters and accused Alaa and a group of activists of gathering and destroying in March 2013, after protesting in front of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Office, and the matter led to Alaa and his colleagues being summoned for investigation.
Alaa’s biography in prison included another absurd case when he was accused by former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik of participating in burning his electoral headquarters during the 2012 presidential elections, a case that remained in the drawers since the era of the military council until the disputes began between Alaa and the Morsi regime, so he re-investigated it, Shafiq relinquished the notification, but during the era of Adly Mansour, the ruling was issued against Alaa and his sister, Mona Seif, with one year in prison with a suspended sentence for a crime he did not commit and there was no real evidence.
With the end of the Brotherhood era and the assumption of interim President Adly Mansour to power, and during discussions on constitutional amendments, in November 2013, Alaa and a number of activists participated in a peaceful protest before the Egyptian Shura Council to object to an article that included allowing civilians to be tried before the military courts, That protest, which did not last for minutes and was violently dispersed under the guise of the protest law, which had only been issued for two days at the time, and after the protest was dispersed and many protesters were arrested, the Qasr al-Nil Prosecution issued an arrest warrant for Alaa. On November 28, twenty policemen stormed Alaa’s house, broke the door, and confiscated the family’s computers and mobile phones. When Alaa demanded the warrant for his arrest, the police physically assaulted him and his wife.
During Alaa’s trial, and after he was released, the Criminal Court issued a ruling in absentia – despite his presence and the rest of the defendants in front of the court’s headquarters awaiting permission to enter – and sentenced Alaa Abdel-Fattah and 24 others, to 15 years in prison, and fined each of them 100,000 Egyptian pounds, and placed them under surveillance for 5 years from the date of the ruling, and Alaa was immediately arrested in front of the prison, and after the retrial, the court sentenced five years in prison and a fine of 100,000 Egyptian pounds each, and announced that they will be subjected to supervision for the same period of time, which is Five additional years after serving the sentence.
During Alaa’s trial, his younger sister, Sana, was arrested during a protest headed to the presidential headquarters in Cairo to demand the abolition of the protest law that had been recently issued at the time on June 21, 2014.
As if fate played a new game, the father and teacher, Professor Ahmed Seif al-Islam, died during the trial of his sons Alaa and Sana on August 27, 2014. The two sons attended the funeral of their father in white prison uniforms under the guard of the police. Thousands of all the feuding political factions gathered to mourn one The most important symbols of human rights in Egypt’s modern history, and his iconic message that he delivered to them months before his death, in which he said: “I am sorry that I made you inherit the cells I entered into… I did not succeed in bequeathing you a society that preserves human dignity… I hope that Khaled, my grandson, will inherit a better society.”
On March 29, 2019, Alaa was released from prison after completing his entire 5-year sentence – despite the issuance of a presidential pardon for the rest of those imprisoned with him in the same case in previous times – so that Alaa began a new suffering with the probation period, which was 12 hours a day, after which he released a number of Jurists and politicians have launched an electronic campaign against the punishment of monitoring. The campaign called for the need to abolish the monitoring punishment, which has become a new form of punishment and humiliation against opponents; with the aim of restricting their movement.
Abdel-Fattah continued blogging on his personal page on Facebook about the duration of the monitoring, describing it as humiliating. In one of his posts, he said: “Seeing you happy for my release makes me joyful, but unfortunately I am not free. I’m surrendering myself every day to humiliation in the form of surveillance, logically I am supposed to spend in conditions better than prison, not worse, by the law I am supposed to spend it in my home, 60 months’ imprisonment is a sufficient price for a demonstration that lasted a quarter of an hour.”
On September 29, he was detained in the Dokki police station, and was brought before the State Security Prosecution in Case No. 1356 of 2019 under the guise of illusory accusations that are usually directed against thousands of political prisoners in Egypt, namely Spreading false news and the participation of a terrorist group in achieving its goals and disturbing security and public peace, against the background of the call to protest in order to demand the departure of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
After the investigation with Alaa ended, human rights lawyer #Mohamed_Al-Baqer was arrested while he was present at the Supreme State Security Prosecution to defend him, and he was included in the same case, and a decision was issued to detain them for 15 days pending investigation.
Then Alaa and Baqer were transferred to “Tora High Security Prison 2”, a notorious prison in Egypt also known as “Al-Aqrab Prison 2”. There, they were blindfolded and stripped naked, at the hands of prison officers, who beat and kicked them several times, and threatened and insulted them.
After the 15 days, Alaa and Al-Baqer attended a session to renew their detention before the State Security Prosecution. They were also tortured upon their arrival in Tora High Security Prison 2 after the Public Prosecution decided to imprison them for additional 15 days, without taking any real action, so they were returned to the same prison in which they were tortured more brutally.
The Supreme State Security Prosecution in Egypt has exceptional powers, as it is entitled to exercise the powers of the investigative judge to issue orders to imprison the accused for a period of 15 days in each renewal session, provided that this period should not exceed 5 months, then the accused are presented to an appellate circuit to consider whether or not to renew their detention. In case of renewal the circuit may imprison the accused for 45 days.
When Alaa and Baqer appeared for a hearing to renew their detention, a decision was issued to release them, but the Public Prosecution immediately appealed this decision. The Criminal Court decided to accept the prosecution’s appeal, and they continued to be detained for another 45 days.
With the spread of the Corona epidemic in Egypt, the authorities issued a decision to close prisons and prevent visits, in addition to stopping court sessions, and the renewal of the order to imprison the accused was issued directly on paper without the presence of their lawyers, which presented a clear violation of law. Despite the calls for the release of the accused, it fell on deaf ears.
Alaa’s family organized a protest near the headquarters of the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, to demand the release of prisoners, for fear of the outbreak of the Corona virus in prisons. However, the security forces arrested them and referred them to the Qasr Al-Nil Prosecution on charges of spreading false news, which, in turn, issued its decision to release Laila Soueif, Ahdaf Soueif, Rabab Al-Mahdi and Mona Seif on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds.
What was mentioned above was not enough for the security forces, which, after the Qasr al-Nil Prosecution released the four women, transferred Dr. Laili Soueif to the State Security Prosecution unilaterally and presented her in a different case with the same accusations, which in turn released her on a bail of 3,000 pounds.
With the continued ban on visiting Alaa and the prison’s refusal to even receive any hygiene tools to be handed over to him, Alaa’s family announced that he had entered into a hunger strike, in protest against the ban on visits, Report No. 2610 of 2020, the Maadi administrator, was issued and presented to the Maadi Prosecution Office, to which he is affiliated, on April 13.
His sister, Mona Seif, said that she holds every officer in a high-security prison, headed by the National Security Agency officer, Ahmed Fikri, responsible for disturbing the detainees there, pointing out that the official responsibility rests with the prison warden, and the head of prison investigations. The Public Prosecution and the judiciary are responsible for continuing to imprison him despite the lapse of the detention order.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s hunger strike is a new form of his confrontation with the repressive regimes in Egypt, and turned him into a symbol of the Egyptian resistance.
مُتاح أيضًا بـ: العربية (Arabic)