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.
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, MsReine Alapini-Gansou, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa, MsFaith 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.
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.