By Colm Bryce, UCU activist and member of MENA Solidarity’s delegation to Cairo in November 2012
Walking around the narrow streets of Downtown Cairo with Haitham Mohamadein last November, he seemed to know and be trusted by everyone, especially activists in the emerging workers movement.
Haitham is a labour and human rights lawyer, who represented many of the huge numbers of workers then being arrested by the Morsi goverment, in an attempt to stop the wave of strikes breaking out in workplaces all over Egypt. He has now been arrested by the Egyptian military as he was on his way to meet clients in Suez.
Last November I was in Egypt as part of a MENA Solidarity trade union delegation, and he introduced us to leading activists among the Cairo bus workers, dock workers from Suez (who’d recently had a magnificent strike), a young street activist who was now a trade union leader in ceramics factory and many more.
His calm, patient advice in conversation was in stark contrast to his role in demonstrations. Haitham isn’t the sort of lawyer stuck all day behind books in an office. He is an activist, a revolutionary. We joined a protest of public hospital doctors, who had been on strike for 8 weeks. Haitham was a key advisor to their strike committee. As they marched on the Ministry of Health, a few blocks from Tahrir Square, it was Haitham who was lifted onto a comrade’s shoulders to lead the chants. You could imagine the role he and many others like him had played in the momentous protests in Egypt in recent years. But to reminisce about those events was the last thing on his mind, instead his energy seemed entirely focussed on the present struggles and the battles to come to complete the tasks of the revolution. I last saw video footage of him a few weeks ago, on a protest against military rule and the massacres, leading the chants.
What you can do
- Sign the statement here calling for Haitham’s release and the dropping of all charges.
- Write urgently to the Egyptian authorities calling for his release and an end to the harassment and prosecution of the military’s political opponents. Rush messages of protest to General Abd-al-Fattah al-Sisi, Commander in Chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces. Email General al-Sisi here firstname.lastname@example.org copy in Kamal Abu Aita, Minister of Labour (email@example.com) and the Egyptian Ambassador to the UK (firstname.lastname@example.org) or your country.
- Print out this sign for solidarity pictures and send to us via Facebook or Twitter @menasolidarity
- Sign and circulate our Emergency Statement on Egypt which condemns the army’s crackdown