TOULOUSE, France, 12 May 2006
On Sunday May 7, free speech activist Alaa Seif Al-Islam – a pioneer Egyptian blogger – was arrested by the authorities of his country. Alaa, a colleague and friend of the APC community, with which he shared many encounters, is persecuted for organising protest activities against his government.
Eight other persons have been arrested and are currently detained with him, while demonstrating in favour of an independent judiciary and the liberation of other activists arrested two weeks earlier. The organisation Human Rights Watch claims that there are already 100 political prisoners in police custody for related charges at this point in Egypt.
For the Egyptian authorities, blogging represents a dangerous activity. Six further activists were detained for having used this medium of expression that is seen as a tool of disobedience. The censors have expressed motives for qualifying blogs as subversive.
Alaa’s blog has used humour to criticise the limits put on freedom of expression and the prohibitions on political blogging. He is known and appreciated by the international activist community. The Association for Progressive Communications, a 41-member international organisation sharing the values of the inalienable human rights – such as the freedom of expression – is presently turning up the pressure to counteract this worrying and negative development. APC members around the world have kick-started campaigns in Spanish, English and French.
Despite the latest intimidations by authorities, Alaa has avoided censorship: Ha continues blogging from inside the prison. On Wednesday May 10, his first impressions were published about the cell, his cellmates, the hunger strike they are organising as protest form, and much more. Read his updates here: http://www.manalaa.net
The British daily The Guardian has expressed that Egypt is rolling out a new wave of repression against the opponents of “one of the Arab world’s more authoritarian regimes.” The government is using scare tactics and outright repression against reform-oriented judges, menacing the independence of the judiciary power.
The APC community is mobilised in order to denounce this situation and stand up alongside Alaa to defend free expression and immediate liberation of all political prisoners. The world is watching.
>Blog of APC Spanish member Pangea in Spanish, with template letters to be sent to Egyptian embassies worldwide and other important facts:
>APC Mexican member Laneta call out in Spanish: http://www.laneta.apc.org/laneta/interior.shtml?sh_itm=19e40e57319ef1fa7…
>APC Hungarian member Green Spider article (in Hungarian on Indymedia Hungary): http://www.indymedia.hu/cikk.shtml?x=29791
>APC Czech member Econnect article (in Czech): http://zpravodajstvi.ecn.cz/index.stm?apc=zzvx1—&x=1899831
> APC South Asia member BytesforAll interview with Alaa: http://www.greennet.org.uk/anna/manalaa.mp3
>Petition for the liberation: http://www.manalaa.net/alaa_detained_15_days
>Template letters to be sent to Egyptian embassies worldwide: http://www.sandmonkey.org/2006/05/08/the-situation-so-far/
>Human Rights Watch declaration: http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2006/05/09/egypt13337.htm
>BBC Radio coverage (captured by GreenNet): http://www.greennet.org.uk/anna/manalaa.mp3