(Nairobi) – Security forces in Sudan arrested dozens of opposition party members, students, and political activists, in the lead up to, during, and after national elections, April 13 to 16, 2015.
Those arrested included people participating in a campaign to boycott the elections “Irhal” (or “Go!” in Arabic). The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies, in a statement released the day after polls closed, documented 22 arrests on April 12 alone. Sudanese monitoring groups have reported dozens of additional arrests.
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.
The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Ms Reine Alapini-Gansou, has been informed of the sentence handed down on appeal against human rights defenders Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif and 21 other co-accused on Sunday, 28 December 2014, in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
The Special Rapporteur condemns the sentence which runs completely counter to the principles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), and other regional and international instruments duly ratified by Egypt.
On 13 September 2014, the Police Institute near Tora postponed the trial of the seven women human rights defenders until 11 October 2014. The decision to postpone was taken after the court heard the prosecution’s evidence. The defense attorneys requested the postponement in order to allow a technical expert to examine and determine the veracity of the video footage evidence presented during the session.
The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition has grave concerns for the wellbeing of Ms Sanaa Seif, a prominent Egyptian Woman Human Rights Defender, who began a hunger strike on 28 August 2014 to protest the Protest and Public Assembly Law. Ms Seif is currently being held in Qanater prison.
Ms Seif was one of seven women defenders who were arrested on 21 June 2014 while participating in a peaceful demonstration calling for the repeal of the law, which essentially grants security officials and authority figures the discretion to ban any protest without justifying the grounds for banning them. It also allows police officers to forcibly disperse any protest, and sets heavy prison sentences for peaceful protest and expression.
Yara Sallam, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo), Fikreya Mohamed (known as Rania El-Sheikh) also remain in custody awaiting trial, which has been set for 13 September 2014.
The Women Human Rights Defenders International Coalition (WHRDIC) condemns the arrest of seven women human rights defenders in Cairo on 21st June 2014.
Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo), Fikreya Mohamed, and 15 other activists were arrested by the Egyptian authorities while participating in a peaceful demonstration calling for the repeal of Egypt’s army-backed Protest and Public Assembly Law. Law 107 of 2013 essentially grants security officials and authority figures the discretion to ban any protest without justifying the grounds for banning them. It also allows police officers to forcibly disperse any protest, and sets heavy prison sentences for peaceful protest and expression.
In an unprecedented statement, over forty senior academics including more than a dozen former presidents of the most important professional association for scholars of the Arab and larger Muslim world, the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), have signed a letter to US President Obama and Secretary State John Kerry calling for the Administration to demand the immediate release of blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah and other political detainees in Egypt, for Egyptian officials to suspend the protest law of 2013 and end the repression of free speech rights guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and international law, and end the regime of violence, including torture and extra judicial execution, that still governs Egypt after the electoral victory of Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as President. Even as Iraq is engulfed by violence and Syria continues its brutal civil war, these scholars and officials, with literally centuries of experience in Egypt and the broader region between them, warn that growing political violence in Egypt epitomized by the recent reimprisonment of Alaa Abdel Fattah and ongoing rights abuses, risks permanently destabilizing Egypt, and with it, the region more broadly. They call upon the Obama administration to suspend non-humanitarian military, security, political, and economic cooperation with Egypt until the government heeds these demands.
GENEVA (19 May 2014) – A group of UN human rights experts Monday expressed alarm after Meriam Ibrahim, a Christian woman pregnant with her second child, was sentenced to death and 100 lashes for marrying a Christian man and refusing to renounce her faith. Her trial did not comply with basic fair trial and due process guarantees, said the experts.
SIHA STATEMENT, 15 MAY 2014, KHARTOUM: In a shocking decision that the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) strongly condemns, Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old pregnant Sudanese women charged with apostasy and adultery, was given a sentence today of 100 lashings and execution by hanging at the Haj Yousif Court Complex in Khartoum. In explaining the sentence, the deciding judge, Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa, commented to the defendant, whom SIHA has been publically and confidentially advocating for since February, that, ‘We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death.’ In a show of great bravery given that the charge of apostasy, which carries the death penalty, hinges on Meriam’s claim that she is in fact a Christian, Meriam responded to the judge, ‘I am a Christian and never committed apostasy.’