AFTER 111 days in detention, ten of them on hunger strike, Egyptian anti-war activist Ashraf Ibrahim was finally charged on 7 August. Alongside four other activists-Nasser Farouq, Yehia Fakry, Mustafa El Basiony and Remoan Edward Gendi-he stands accused of forming an illegal left wing organisation.
The prosecution represents a worrying new development for anti-war activists in Egypt. Like tens of thousands of others, Ashraf took part in the massive anti-war demonstrations of 20 and 21 March in Cairo. When they arrested him on 19 April, state security officers seized video footage of those protests, which ended in brutal repression and mass arrests.
The five activists are also accused of 'damaging the prestige and status of the state' by contacting international human rights organisations. Ashraf and his co-defendants are the only anti-war activists charged with serious offences. Under Egypt's emergency laws they could face years in prison if convicted.
The activists' defence campaign believes that the case is politically motivated. A statement signed by 21 civil society groups says that the prosecutors aim 'to send a threatening message to political activists and groups in Egypt'. Egyptian activists need the support of our movement.
What you can do:
Write, email or phone the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the Public Prosecutor and the Egyptian Ambassador.
Write to your MP and ask him or her why the British government is still backing a regime which denies its citizens their basic democratic rights.
Send messages of support from your trade union branch or community group to [email protected] and they will forward them to Ashraf Ibrahim's defence campaign.
His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 'Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt. [email protected]
Counsellor Maher 'Abd al-Wahid, Public Prosecutor, Dar al-Qadha al-'Ali, Ramses Street, Cairo, Egypt.
His Excellency Mr Adel El Gazzar, Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 26 South Street London W1Y 6DD.
For more information contact the Stop the War Coalition. Phone 020 7053 2153/4/5/6 or go to www.stopwar.org.uk