Thursday,19 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1297, (26 May - 1 June 2016)
Thursday,19 July, 2018
Issue 1297, (26 May - 1 June 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Tactical demonstrations

Members of the Popular Campaign to Protect the Land continue to act against the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation agreement, writ

Al-Ahram Weekly

During a press conference on Tuesday held at the headquarters of the Socialist Popular Alliance members of the Popular Campaign to Protect the Land announced the suspension of their week-long sit-in to protest the Egyptian-Saudi maritime border demarcation agreement signed last month but announced a raft of alternative measures.


"We will concentrate on lobbying MPs not to endorse the agreement in parliament. We already have meetings with some MPs planned at which we will hand over the signatures we have collected from citizens opposed to the agreement," campaign member Khaled Dawoud told Al-Ahram Weekly.  


During the conference campaigners also discussed ways of escalating protests in other governorates and announced their solidarity with the 152 protesters who have received jail terms for taking part in the 25th April demonstrations against the Egyptian-Saudi agreement.


On Tuesday afternoon, a Giza court of appeals overturned on Tuesday a five-year jail sentence for 47, but the court upheld a LE 100,000 fine for each defendant. According to the law, the defendants will serve three months in jail if they fail to pay the fine.  


On the same day the Administrative Court referred 12 lawsuits calling for the annulment of the Egyptian-Saudi agreement to the State Council Commissioners Authority. Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who opposes the agreement, was present during the court session.


Following Egypt's ceding of the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia dozens of lawsuits were filed before the administrative judiciary by activists contesting the legality of the deal.


Lawyer Malek Adli, one of the petitioners who has provided documents which he says prove Egypt's ownership of the two islands, was arrested on 5 May on charges of spreading false news. Seven legal NGOs have appealed to the United Nations to request it intervene on Adli’s behalf after allegations emerged that Adli was being tortured in Tora prison. A number of international lawyers’ syndicates have also recommended Adli be awarded internationally recognition for his work defending human rights.


On 19 May police raided the home of legal researcher Mena Thabet and arrested him on charges of inciting protests and spreading false news. A leaflet with the words "Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian" was among the papers seized by the police.  Thabet, a Coptic defender of minorities’ rights at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, has been accused of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood. On 21 May the prosecution extended Thabet's detention for 15 days pending investigations. Following Thabet's arrest Amnesty International issued a press release denouncing Egypt's "ferocious attack against civil society organisations".


On 22 April 16 liberal and leftist parties and movements and 163 public figures joined together to launch the Popular Campaign to Protect the Land. Under the slogan “Egypt is not for Sale” the campaign began to mobilise opposition to the maritime border and started a petition opposed to the deal.


The arrest and subsequent jailing of dozens of campaign members who protested on 25 April has upped the ante. On 17 May the campaign staged a symbolic sit-in at the headquarters of the Karama Party to press for the release of all protestors and demand the cancellation of the Egyptian-Saudi agreement. An exhibition comprising the names of detainees and the messages they wanted to convey accompanied the sit-in.


"The sit-in is one of the tools used by civil political forces to press for the release of all prisoners of conscience and for the annulling the Egyptian-Saudi agreement," Sabahi said on 17 May.


The sit-in later moved to the Socialist Popular Alliance’s headquarters where the announcement of its suspension was made on Tuesday.


On Saturday the Bread and Freedom party organised a day of solidarity with those in custody and sentenced, hosting the families of the detainees and listening to their testimonies.


Detainees are subject to torture and are deprived of visitation rights said the families of those held in prison. Participants staged a symbolic one-day hunger strike in support of 47 detainees held at Giza Central Prison. On 18 May ten out of the 47 protestors who received five-year sentences began an open-ended hunger strike. On Sunday 11 more joined the strike. News of the deteriorating health condition of several hunger strikers was reported by the Freedom for the Brave campaign.


In a statement issued on Sunday the Popular Campaign to Protect the Land declared its total support of the 21 hunger strikers. It called on the public to support the campaign for their release, under the slogan Hungry for Justice, and demanded the judiciary free all 25th April protest detainees.


"Every decision maker should realise that it is the people of the country who have the right to determine its destiny and the future of coming generations," the statement concluded.

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