Publisher: APCNews 27 August 2014
APC demands the immediate release of Alaa Abd El Fattah, Sanaa Seif and other detained democracy activists
The Association for Progressive Communication (APC) strongly condemns the continued and arbitrary detention of Alaa Abd El Fattah and Sanaa Seif for violation of Egypt’s highly restrictive public assembly law. Today, APC sadly mourns the death of Alaa and Sanaa’s father and esteemed human rights defender and lawyer, Ahmad Seif al Islam.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, has said that Egypt’s law is seriously flawed and in direct violation of the human right to freedom of expression and association. She states, “No one should be criminalised or subject to any threats or acts of violence, harassment, persecution, intimidation or reprisals for addressing human rights issues through peaceful protest.” Pillay also says, “The fact that the law criminalises acts by demonstrators which may breach ‘security and public order,’ without clearly defining these terms, leaves the door open to a very restrictive and repressive interpretation.”
Alaa was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison on 11 June 2014. This sentence was later set aside but he remains in detention while he waits for a retrial, which is repeatedly postponed. Alaa’s detention,the subsequent arrest of his sister Sanaa on 21 June, and the recent death of their father have all taken an enormous toll on the family. We extend our condolences and solidarity to Seif’s wife Laila and his children Alaa, Mona, and Sanaa and to everyone close to them, particularly to Alaa’s partner, Manal Hassan and their son Khaled. Previously while in prison, Alaa missed the birth of his first child; the recent loss of his father makes the human tragedy of his unjust detention even greater.
Alaa began a hunger strike on 18 August in protest of his continued illegal detention. “The well-being of my body is of no value while it remains subject to an unjust power in an open-ended imprisonment not controlled by the law or any concept of justice,” says Alaa in an open letter from prison.
We strongly support the petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), submitted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Media Legal Defence Initiative. APC urges the UNWGAD to take quick action on the petition, and asserts that the arrests of Alaa, Sanaa, and others are in direct violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Egypt is party.
Alaa Abdel-Fattah has worked with APC on the use of the internet for social justice since 2004. He is a colleague and valued member of our network, particularly in the promotion of free and open source software. His partner Manal Hassan is one of the most valued trainers in the APC women’s rights network and contributed to APC’s work at the Human Rights Council in 2011; work that culminated in the landmark HRC resolution on the internet and human rights, which affirmed that human rights in the offline world also apply online. Yara Sallam, arrested for violating the same draconian law, is a long-time APC partner and human rights advocate.
We continue to support the work of Alaa Abd El Fattah, Yara Sallam, and other Egyptian activists in their struggle for social justice.
We call on the APC community to campaign for the release of all unjustly detained activists: