Egypt: Amnesty documents military’s clampdown on students

A recent damning report by Amnesty International documents the scale of repression by the military regime in Egypt. According to the report around 500 students have been detained, and some jailed for up to 17 years for taking part in protests against the military. Students have also been shot dead on campus as security forces storm universities to crush demonstrations. The case studies below have all been taken from Amnesty’s report “Roadmap to repression”, published in January 2014. Read the full report online here.

What you can do:

  • Pass a resolution through your trade union or student union to condemn the military’s attempt to wipe out the freedoms won by Egyptians during the 2011 Revolution. Model motions are available here.

Schoolboy jailed for “violent” stationery

Egyptian security forces,arrested 15-year-old high-school student Khaled Mohamed Bakara on 25 November 2013 at his school in Balteem, in Kafr el-Sheikh Governorate, after his teachers found he was using stationery with a symbol supporting Mohamed Morsi. He was released on bail on 22 December 2013 pending the outcome of investigations into accusations that he belongs to a “banned group” and possesses stationery that “inspires violence against the armed forces”

“You will never see your mother, or the sun again”

19-year-old university student Mohamed Abdu was apprehended by an army officer in the early morning hours of 14 October 2013 in the vicinity of pro-Morsi protests in Greater Cairo, while he was distributing leaflets criticizing the “military coup” and condemning the killings and injuries of “anti-coup” protesters. After being held inside an armoured vehicle, the military officer handed him over to members of the police, who pushed, slapped and kicked him. He was interrogated inside the police station by a public prosecutor without the presence of a lawyer and was not allowed to call his family. He spent some 15 days inside a police station on accusations of “inciting violence” and belonging to a “banned group”, before being provisionally released. During interrogations by the public prosecutor, he was asked about his political beliefs and the reasons why he supported the deposed president. Prior to his release, he was also brought in front of a man he assumed to be a member of the National Security Agency, because he was  blindfolded during the interrogation. Mohamed Abdu told Amnesty International that the man threatened him to force him to reveal the names of those who had handed him the leaflets, shouting: “…you will never see your mother, or the sun again… you will be underground for 20 years.” Since his ordeal, Mohamed Abdu has not lived at home for fear of re-arrest.
Shot dead on campus
Students and activists have rallied around the emblematic case of Mohamed Reda, a 19-year-old first-year student at the Faculty of Engineering at Cairo University. He was shot dead on campus on 28 November 2013. According to the forensic pathology report, Mohamed Reda suffered three “gunshot” wounds. Eyewitness testimonies and video evidence show that the riot police fired tear gas and shotguns inside university grounds. The following day, the university administration issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the actions of the security forces. A committee established by the dean to investigate the violence concluded that members of the CSF had fired tear gas and shotguns at students inside the Faculty of Engineering grounds.
Arrested for trying to stop police beating students
Ayat Hamada, an 18-year-old first-year student at the Faculty of Commerce at al-Azhar University, know for her activities with Tamarud and Ikhwan Khazeboon (“MBs are liars”), was arrested on 28 December 2013 against the backdrop of demonstrations and disturbances at other locations at al-Azhar University. A building at the Faculty of Commerce (for boys) was set alight. According to a friend who was with her at the time of arrest, she was checking her exam schedule at the Faculty of Commerce (for girls) when she saw another girl being beaten and tried to intervene to defend her. Instead, she was captured and made to sit inside an armoured vehicle parked on university grounds. Ayat Hamada was arrested along with 13 other women and 56 men, and is facing a number of charges, including assault, damage to property, theft and belonging to a “banned group” which aims to undermine the law, hamper public institutions from carrying out their work and attack rights and liberties. According to her lawyer, Sayed Sobhy from the Nidal Centre for Rights and Freedoms (a new Egyptian NGO), most suspects in this case were arrested arbitrarily, including students who were at university to attend exams or collect study papers. The accused were initially brought to Nasr City Second Police Station, where, according to lawyers, the men were beaten, forced to undress in front of the women detainees and sing pro-army songs. Cold water was poured on the detainees inside their prison cells. They were then transferred to the Salam CSF camp, and questioned by public prosecutors the following day. Lawyers complained about some prosecutors’ refusal to take action when male detainees complained of beatings. Similarly to other cases, no material evidence linking the defendants to the crimes has yet been presented, and the Prosecution’s case rests mainly on the police report prepared by the body which carried out the students’ arrests. At the time of writing,Ayat Hamada and 10 other women were held at Qanater Prison, while three other women still remained in police stations. Ayat Hamada has a heart condition which requires her to take injections every 15 days.

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