Picture: Mike Goold of the Haldane Society takes a stand against repression in Egypt during a protest over cuts in Legal Aid in the UK on 6 Jan 2014
Barristers and solicitors from the Haldane Society, a campaigning organisation of socialist lawyers in the UK, and other prominent legal practitioners yesterday called for the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against activists under the anti-protest law.
Highlighting the case of Mahienour el-Massry, who along with other activists from Alexandria, was sentenced to two years in jail with hard labour last week, they condemned the persistent violations of detainees’ rights by the Egyptian police.
If you are a legal professional and would like to add your name to the statement below, please email email@example.com by Monday 13 January. Signatures will be handed in to the Egyptian embassy.
Drop the charges against revolutionary activists in Egypt
Defend the right to protest
We condemn the sentencing of leading revolutionary activists in Egypt under the terms of the 2013 Protest Law, legislation described by Amnesty International as “a grave threat to freedom of assembly”. According to the law, protest organisers must apply in advance for permission to hold a demonstration, and it allows courts to impose jail sentences and fines for non-compliance. The law also gives the security forces authority to use lethal force in dispersing ‘unauthorised’ protests.
Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel from the 6th April Youth Movement were sentenced to three years in prison and a 50,000 LE (£4000) fine on 23 December 2013, for organising a demonstration without police permission and allegedly attacking police officers. Mahienour el-Massry and Hassan Moustafa from the Revolutionary Socialists in Alexandria received 2 year jail sentences and 50,000 LE (£4000) fines on 2 January 2014 also for organising an unauthorised protest. Other activists from Alexandria who received 2 year jail sentences in connection with the same event include Lu’ay Al-Qahwagi, Amr Hafez, Nasir Abu-al-Hamd and Islam Muhamadein. They join hundreds of other opponents of the current military-backed regime who have been arrested in recent months, as part of a crackdown ostensibly targeting the Muslim Brotherhood.
As members of the legal profession, we note with particular concern that Mahienour el-Massry, a qualified lawyer who is well-known for her work on behalf of detainees in Alexandria, was arrested and beaten in March 2013 when attending a police station with a group of lawyers to represent arrested demonstrators. We call on the Egyptian authorities to take urgent steps to ensure that all those arrested and their legal representatives are treated with respect.
We call for all charges connected with the 2013 Protest Law to be dropped, and for the release of all those Egyptians detained or sentenced for the exercise of their democratic rights.
The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Liz Davies (Barrister, Garden Court and Haldane Society)
Professor Bill Bowring (President, European Association of Lawyers for Democracy & World Human Rights)
Michael Ellman (Solicitors International Human Rights Group, chair of Middle East North Africa Committee)
David Renton (Barrister, Garden Court and Haldane Society)
Anna Morris (Vice-President, Haldane Society)
Stephen Knight (Executive Committee, Haldane Society)
Nick Buno (Haldane Society)
Paramjit Ahluwalia (Barrister, Garden Court)
Maria Moore (Barrister, Garden Court)
Gráinne Mellon (Barrister, Garden Court)
Mike Goold (Haldane Society)
Christopher Loxton (Barrister, 4KBW Chambers)
John Beckley (Barrister, Garden Court)
Emma Mlotshwa (Medical Justice)
Tony Ventham (Barrister, Carmelite Chambers)
Brian Richardson (Haldane Society)
What you can do:
- Sign our statement in solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution, calling for the release of all political detainees (if you are a legal professional and would like to sign the statement above, please email us via firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Join the protest at the Egyptian Embassy in London at 2pm on 25 January in solidarity with revolutionary activists. Facebook event here.
- Use our toolkit to build support for the campaign against the anti-protest law