Socialist Worker

Democracy activists detained in Cairo

Issue No. 2000

Egyptian state security forces have arrested 11 democracy activists as part of a crackdown on the opposition Kifaya movement.

The arrests, made outside the central court in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on 7 May, came as authorities clamped down on a campaign against electoral fraud, which has been led by senior judges.

A total of 48 activists have been detained since the judges began their protest.

Some of those arrested are being held in the notorious Tora high security prison outside Cairo.

In a message smuggled out of the prison, activists described how they were handcuffed, left in a sweltering van by the side of the road for six hours and subjected to “humiliations”.

According to eyewitnesses, in the latest arrests the police, led by Sami Sedhom, assistant to the Egyptian minister of interior, beat and kicked demonstrators.

Sedhom told a small group of 30 protesters outside the Cairo courthouse, “You bitches. You sons of bitches. This is how it is going to be from now on if you do not behave and know your limits. If you do not behave you’ll have the bottom of my old shoes all over you.”

The eyewitness describes how police “kidnapped six of the protesters and then returned with the same group to arrest five more, putting them in a private car and driving them away.

“The remainder of the protesters were chased with kicks and obscenities into the neighbouring streets.”

In a desperate mobile phone call, one of the activists said that they were being savagely beaten. During the call one policeman could be heard shouting, “We are screwing them all now.”

The new wave of repression has targeted leading members of Kifaya, including veteran activists, members of the Youth for Change Movement and Alaa Ahmed Seif, the son of the director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, a leading human rights group in the country.

Kifaya, which means “enough” in Arabic, is a coalition of opposition groups, which has been leading the campaign for an end to regime of Hosni Mubarak, a US ally in the region.

The European Social Forum in Athens has called for an international day of action on 25 May in support of the pro?reform judges whose protests led to the original arrests.

Send urgent messages of protest at the arrests to the Egyptian general prosecutor, Maher Abdel Wahid, fax number +20 2 577 4716.

For more on the international day of action to free the democracy activists go to www.stopwar.org.uk


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International
Sat 13 May 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2000
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