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Calls for prisoners’ release
Calls for prisoners’ release
The Muslim Brotherhood and a number of domestic human rights groups have called for the release of a number of popular Brotherhood leaders after the interior ministry continues to refuse court orders for their release.
Sunday, October 11,2009 21:16
BM News
The Muslim Brotherhood and a number of domestic human rights groups have called for the release of a number of popular Brotherhood leaders after the interior ministry continues to refuse court orders for their release. Topping the list of those are garnering the support of a cross-section of groups in the country is former Member of Parliament Gamal Heshmat and 12 others from the northern governorate of Damanhour.

Surprisingly, leading reformist Brotherhood leader Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh was left off the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information’s calls for prisoner releases, shocking a number of Brotherhood activists. However, the ANHRI said they deeply resent and “refuses the repressing [of] illegal measures and procedures indifferent of court decisions taken by the Egyptian security authorities where an arrest order was issued for Gamale Heshmat and 12 others right after a release order had been issued from the court in Damanhour.”

The Brotherhood had faced an onslaught in recent months by the government security forces, which began with the arrest and detention of Aboul Fotouh, a member of the banned Islamic group’s Executive Bureau and Secretary-General of the Arab Doctors Union, in late June. Activists believe the government is seeking to radicalize the Brotherhood ahead of rumors that Parliament would be dissolved and new elections called.

“They have no respect, this regime, for human rights and justice. We are against this kind of action and will support those who have continued the calls against the government,” said George Ishaq, a leading Kefaya (Enough) activist and Coptic scholar. He has been the most outspoken in support of Aboul Fotouh and Heshmat, who he believes are persons able to “bring people together as Egyptians.”

Heshmat was arrested on September 27 and after investigations, the prosecution ordered a further 15-day detention behind bars after accusing him and 12 others of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood and “possessing publications to revive the group principles and planning for an overthrow” of the government.

An appellate court in Damanhour ordered them to be released three days ago, the ANHRI said, however, the prosecution “objected to the release order. The court endorsed the release order as a final decision. So, security authorities arrested Gamal Heshmat and his companions and moved them to Wadi El Natrun prison.”

Heshmat is receiving the same accusations Aboul Fotouh and other Brotherhood and political opposition leaders have been subjected to in recent years. “The same set of accusations are used by security against political opponents in obvious disrespect of law and court decisions,” ANHRI said.

Ironically, the government continues to argue the Brotherhood is seeking to “overthrow” the regime and has asserted that they will do so “through violence,” two claims Aboul Fotouh and Brotherhood Deputy Mohamed Habib have repeatedly denied.

“They want to say we are going to overthrow the government violently so let them, because we and our supporters know who we are and the facts show that we are moving toward democracy and achieving a state open to political opposition,” said Aboul Fotouh in his Doctors Union office only weeks before he was arrested.

Habib has been more direct to the question of violence, stating that “there is no place for violence within the group and those who claim otherwise are wrong.”

But the government has not relinquished its quest to imprison leading members since the Brotherhood won a surprising one-fifth of Parliament seats in the 2005 elections. Heshmat is a former MP for two terms, last of which was in 2000. He is a well-respected and leading member of the Brotherhood, but has accused the government of vote rigging in that election, which saw him lose his seat.

ANHRI corroborates his claims, arguing that voter fraud was rampant and could have led to skewed results. The Brotherhood has issued a number of statements that have argued Heshmat, according to their statistics, won his seat, but the government refused to accept the result.

For now, Heshmat, Aboul Fotouh and hundreds of Brotherhood remain behind bars as the interior ministry continues to ignore court orders for their release.

tags: Fotouh / Prisoners of Conscience / Detention / Muslim Brotherhood / Arresting / Heshmat / Human rights
Posted in Human Rights , Prisoners of Conscience , MB in International press  
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