A Leaf Out of Mubarak's Book: Arrest of an Activist Who Uncovered the Truth of a Massacre

Press Release

31 October 2011

We the undersigned, in our capacity as rights organizations, social movements, and political forces, announce our strong condemnation of the detention of the activist Alaa Abdel Fattah.

The military prosecutor's decision, issued Sunday 30 October, ordered the detention of Abd el-Fattah for fifteen days after an investigation (under case number 855 of 2011, coined as the Maspero incident) against him and another activist, Bahaa Saber (who was released pending further investigations). The two face charges of incitement and vandalism, based on an investigation by the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ministry of the Interior which accused them of incitement against the armed forces in the Maspero massacre, which so far has claimed the lives of 27 martyrs. We believe the decision to detain Abdel Fattah for 15 days, which he spending now in the Appeals Prison, cannot escape the taint of personal vengeance against a prominent activist widely popular amongst the 25th January revolutionaries. Abdel Fattah has exercised his right not to be investigated by a military prosecutor. This is firstly because he is a civilian who should not be dealt with by the military establishment. Secondly this is because the military courts' assumption of responsibility for the investigation of the Maspero massacre means that investigation and its results lose all credibility and professionalism. This is especially true in the light of clear evidence that individuals and leaders of the military establishment were involved in that massacre and in the killing of demonstrators, which millions in Egypt and across the world witnessed. Those who were actually involved in the massacre, and those who incited it – especially in the state media – have still not been investigated.

Abdel Fattah refused to stand before a body which will charge, investigate, and sentence him, while it is itself under suspicion – and his punishment was 15 days' detention. This represents a clear attempt to terrorize the youth of the revolution – especially as the charges were based on anonymous sources and include other youth movements such as the 6th April Youth, Youth for Justice and Freedom, Maspero Youth, Copts Without Borders, and Copts for Egypt. Things did not stop here, for the name of the martyr Mina Daniel was found at the top of the list of instigators of the very events which ended his life with a bullet in his chest; thus an instigator of the crime was amongst its first victims.

At this historic moment in the country's history, based on our responsibility towards the country and in conjunction with our struggle against tyranny, we see in the Maspero massacre and its aftermath including yesterday's detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah a brazen challenge to the aspirations of the Egyptian people and their struggle for justice in the crimes committed at the Maspero massacre, as well as the persistent attempts to discredit activists and martyrs of the country who sacrificed their lives for the sake of this country's freedom from tyranny.

Yesterday's events are a continuation of the military council's policy of referring tens of thousands of civilians to military courts. This is to say nothing of its tireless attempts to discredit Egypt's laudable martyrs and activists, struggling and dreaming of the victory of their revolution for the principles of freedom, justice and human dignity.

The undersigned declare our solidarity with the activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and all those falsely accused in the Maspero massacre, and underline that this repression will increase nothing but our resolve and determination to achieve justice. We promise the people that we will strive by all peaceful, legal and democratic means to hold accountable those who violate the people's rights , no matter how long it takes. We call on Egyptian public opinion and all civil and rights organizations to campaign for an end to military trials for civilians, the freedom of Alaa Abdel Fattah and the transfer of the investigation into the Maspero massacre in particular to an independent civilian body.

Glory to the martyrs and freedom for the prisoners of Egypt.

Signatory Organisations:
1. Hisham Mubarak Law Centre.
2. Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence.
3. Socialist Party of Egypt.
4. United Group of Attorneys, Legal Researchers, and Human Rights Advocates.
5. Centre for Egyptian Women's Legal Aid.
6. Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination.
7. Egyptian Foundation for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions.
8. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
9. Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies.
10. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
11. Centre for Trade Union and Workers' Services.
12. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
13. New Woman Foundation.
14. Arab Network for Human Rights Information.
15. Nazra for Feminist Studies.
16. Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights.
17. Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement.