Protest Law

The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition, of which WLUML is a member, is alarmed that the Prosecutor General at the Qasr El Nile Prosecution Office in Cairo has rejected appeals for lawyer and woman human rights defender Azza Soliman to be listed as a witness rather than a defendant in the case of Shaimaa ElSabbagh, who was killed while peacefully protesting on January 24 2015. 

I find myself helpless, but to repeat the sentence most of her loved ones and colleagues used during the last 8 months: "I can't believe that Yara in prison". The Pan-African Woman Human Rights Defender and prominent Egyptian human rights lawyer Yara Sallam was detained while protesting the controversial “protest law” in Egypt, in June last year. "We used to send her the urgent calls for actions and ask her for help to campaign for WHRDs in detention in all over Africa and the Arab region. But now, do we have to campaign for her? How could we possibly do that? Should we copy her in the emails?" Those were the questions that popped up inside my head when I first read the news.

Since 21st June 2014 Yara Sallam, WLUML networker and award-winning human rights defender has been held under the unconstitutional 'Protest Law', along with six other women arrested on the same occasion.  Countless more are being held on similarly spurious charges in a wave of crackdowns on civil society and dissenting voices in Egypt.  On 26 October 2014, a Cairo Misdemeanours Court sentenced Yara  - along with 22 other human rights defenders and protesters - to three years' imprisonment, a further three years' police monitoring, and a fine of 10,000 Egyptian Pounds each.  An appeal has been launched to overturn the sentence, but they remain behind bars.

By Doaa Abdelaal

I still feel the teargas' effects on me... my eyes and my nose are on fire, the voices of people are coming from different sides “wash your eyes with Pepsi”, and the voice in my head “but my face will be sticky”. I still check my Twitter timeline and search for my friends and colleagues tweets or the face book updates; recalling the unspoken code: as long as you are tweeting or facebooking then you are safe and hopefully secure.

The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, Ms Faith Pansy Tlakula, of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Mr.

Since the revolution erupted in Egypt in 2011, two main forces have been controlling the scene: the military junta and the Islamists. Tomorrow sees 7 Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) charged under the so-called 'Protest Law' appear in court.  Fatma Emam, Egyptian feminist and member of WLUML’s Advisory Council, describes the situation from the ground.

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