Socialist Worker

Mahienour el-Massry jailed for two years as Egyptian state extends state of emergency

Issue No. 2586

Mahienour el-Massry in court

Mahienour el-Massry in court (Pic: Egypt Solidarity Initiative)


Campaigning lawyer Mahienour el-Massry and leading trade unionist Moatasem Medhat have been jailed for two years by an Egyptian court.

Their “crime” is breaching a law on public gatherings imposed by the British colonial authorities in 1914.

The jailings come as the Egyptian regime of General Abdel Fattah has extended a nationwide state of emergency by another three months.

Mahienour and Moatasem have been in jail since their trial in November. They will appeal against the sentence on 13 January.

The only witness for the prosecution is a police officer. His written report on the incident stated that the defendants had left before he arrived at the scene.

Campaigning group Egypt Solidarity said, “The charges against Mahienour and Moatasem and their colleagues relate to a demonstration during the wave of protests against the transfer of the Tiran and Sanafir Islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia.

“But it is clear that the real goal is to lock up campaigners who put themselves at risk to defend workers and activists persecuted by the authorities.”

Acquittal

Mahienour is well known for her work defending activists, trade unionists and Syrian refugees from the authorities’ attacks. She was jailed in 2015 in a case connected with protests over the acquittal of policemen charged with the murder of Khaled Said.

He was the man whose death in 2010 sparked the protest movement which paved the way for the 2011 uprising.

During an earlier period in jail she wrote from prison, “I don’t know much about what has happened outside since my prison sentence was confirmed. But I imagine that just as when someone else in our circles was jailed, cyberspace is filling up with slogans demanding “freedom for so-and-so” or “the bravest are in jail” and so on.

“But ever since I entered Damanhour Women’s Prison and joined the other inmates, I can only think of one thing, ‘let’s tear down this class system’.”

While awaiting the latest trial, her sister wrote, “Mahienour is in a very overcrowded cell with 31 women, each of them gets a space of around 50cm width to sleep in. They ended up dividing sleeping hours among them, so Mahienour manages to sleep for only two hours a day.”

Moatasem is one of the founders of the independent trade union at the Lord Company shaving equipment factory. He was union secretary before being victimised and sacked for his trade union activism.

Mahienour and Moatasem are only two of tens of thousands jailed on trumped-up charges by Sisi’s authoritarian military regime.

Solidarity messages, protests and support are important.

For details of solidarity action go to Egypt Solidarity and follow Free Mahienour on Facebook

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