Thursday, April 10, 2008

Crackdown on Opposition under Anti-terrorism Law

Last night prominent opposition speaker and former leader of the well known Kifaya movement George Ishak was arrested from his home after the movement backed a nationwide strike earlier this week.

State Security Prosecution interrogated Ishak the night of his arrest will hold him in detention until presented again to State Security Prosecution on the afternoon of April 10th. The charges against him are "conspiring with others to incite protest with the intention of committing crimes which violate rights of individuals, public property, and the use of violence and force to prevent the public authorities in the performance of their work".

Conveniently, these charges coincide with the stipulations of the Egyptian anti-terrorism of 1992 which reinforces the authorities' right to crackdown on human rights activism and peaceful political opposition, without really needing a basis, proof or anything really except their own sweet mood.

The new anti-terrorism "law" being drafted will ironically enough, imply even more lawlessness. It allows the police to detain civilians for a period of up to 11 days without pressing any charges. Just 'cause. During this period the defendant is denied access to a lawyer. Oh and judicial monitoring of procedures taken by the police is prohibited, so prisoners are totally suspect to any kind of abuse and torture during the 11 day "interrogation" period.

This particular arrest is one more blow on Egyptian opposition, particularly the Kifaya movement, in the aftermath of the April 6th strike. Police crackdown on the April 6th strikes and protests has been occurring elsewhere in Egypt, particularly in Mahallah, Northern Egypt where 85 protestors are currently being investigated with in neighboring Tanta.

Under International Law Egypt is bound to conform with article 8 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Egypt is party to, which declares that the state must ensure the right to strike, provided it is exercised in conformity with the Egyptian law.

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