Five anti-war activists in Egypt are facing years of imprisonment for the "crime" of protesting against the US invasion of Iraq. Ashraf Ibrahim, Nasser el Beheiri, Yehia Fekri Amin, Mustafa Mohamed el Bassuini and Reymon Edward Guindy have been behind bars since mid-April.
In August, they were accused of forming an illegal socialist organisation and charged with "damaging the prestige and status of the state". The activists were arrested following big anti-war protests in Cairo in March. Egypt's police are used to squelching all dissent with an iron fist, but they were unprepared for the tens of thousands of people who turned out. The arrests that followed were an attempt to hold back the development of a mass movement.
"I am calling upon the living conscience of all honourable and democratic citizens of my country, upon all national, regional and international human rights organisations and institutions. I am writing from El Mahkoum prison of Tora, where I share a cell with more than 40 prisoners, charged with different criminal charges", Ibrahim wrote on July 21.
"In that cell, which I am not allowed to leave for more than one hour a day, my share of space is limited to an area of one and a half floor tiles. I am writing to assert that I am ready to die struggling for the principles of freedom of opinion and expression."
The Egyptian government is one of Washington's most important allies among the right-wing Arab regimes of the Middle East. It gets more US military aid than any other country, except Israel.
The outburst of protest against the war represents a crucial development in the rebuilding of a left-wing movement in Egypt. The antiwar activists facing this repression need our support.
Send letters of protest against this attack on human rights to: His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt. Email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
[From the US Socialist Worker.]
From Green Left Weekly, September 10, 2003.
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