Haitham Mohamedain is a prominent Egyptian labour lawyer and member of the Revolutionary Socialists who has been unjustly jailed repeatedly by the military regime led by President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.
In April, Mohamedain was detained again as part of a crackdown on a new wave of protests against the Sisi regime, including its transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
In the letter abridged below, written from prison, Mohamedain writes about the transfer of the two islands, a telling symbol of the Egyptian government's subordination to the Saudi monarchy. It sparked some of the largest demonstrations against the regime since the coup that brought it to power in 2013.
To the Egyptian people, to the January revolutionaries, to the dear comrades: Our struggle against the sale of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to the Saudi Kingdom is inseparable from the goals of the January revolution [in 2011 that overthrow the Mubarak dictatorship].
When we chanted: “He who sells Sanafir and Tiran will tomorrow sell Shubra and Helwan”, we did not do so on a whim. This military regime started selling off this country's riches a long time ago.
They have sold everything; they sold the factories to capitalist speculators and abandoned workers; they sold the agricultural lands to al-Waleed bin Talal and other thieves; they sold our hospitals so we couldn't get treatment.
They sold our food to food import companies that control prices and could not care less for safety standards, so much so that we are now fed what companies elsewhere in the world leave behind. They sold our workers to investors as “cheap labour”.
They sold our schools to turn decent education into a commodity that the rich can buy while the poor drown in ignorance. They sold our public amenities to themselves, claiming their names were on the deeds and account books. They sold the shores of Alexandria and the Port Said harbour and much more.
The Egyptian regime has now moved to another level of the dismantling, mortgaging and selling of the country. After obtaining enough Gulf dollars to kill the Egyptian revolution, it has given the Saudis Egyptian land in exchange. Our stand against the sale of the land is indeed a struggle against the counterrevolution, against the backwardness of al-Saud and against Zionism.
The Egyptian poor have defended these islands with their money and their sons’ blood to prevent the Zionist enemy from gaining a strategic foothold from which it could occupy the whole Red Sea. The sale of Tiran and Sanafir is a move towards allowing Israel to do so.
We are all aware of how Israel has used every land it has occupied to slaughter and threaten the peoples of the region. The sale of Tiran and Sanafir is a defeat without a battle, as there is no need for battles ever since they handed Egypt over to the Americans and the Zionists after the Camp David Agreement. There will be no need for battles as long as we are ruled by a regime that offers them everything and is mandated to protect their interests.
The cause of Tiran and Sanafir demands that the Egyptian opposition builds the largest defence front to overthrow this “sales contract” and recover the islands that were sold by those who do not own them to those who do not deserve them. This front should start with Tiran and Sanafir and expand to all the social, democratic and national causes.
Those who sold the islands where the soldiers’ blood flowed have been paid in Gulf dollars that they will use to bleed the revolutionaries and finish them off. Those who sold the islands sold the factories and the farms under the sword of repression and tyranny. Those who sold the islands sold Egypt’s sovereignty and the Palestinian cause.
The destiny of the Egyptian people in the first half of the last century was to struggle simultaneously against foreign occupation, against the corruption and the tyranny of our local rulers and against the feudal landlords.
Our present duty demands that we continue the journey and struggle against the military regime and capital in order to recover and free the land, and achieve the objectives of the January 25 revolution.