Activists call for an end to imprisonments
Tuesday, July 4,2006 00:00
By Joseph Mayton, Dailystar

 Activists have continued to call for the release of their fellow activists who remain in prison. Egypt’s most famous blogger, Alaa Seif Al Islam, is spearheading the current move to support pro-reform activists still imprisoned.

Al Islam has been instrumental in galvanizing activists in calls for the release of Mohamed El Sharkawy and Karim Al Shaer, two activists detained following the May 25, peaceful demonstration at the journalists syndicate. Sharkawy was allegedly tortured and sexually abused by security forces following his detention on May 25.

“I write to you as a free man,” Al Islam says, in a statement to Human Rights First. “But many of my friends and fellow human rights activists are still in detention and need your help.”

Al Islam was arrested on May 7 for his involvement in demonstrations in solidarity with reformist judges Mahmoud Mekki and Hisham Bastawissy, in Cairo. He was held for 45 days and was only recently released.

In the statement, Al Islam explains how Al Sharkawy and Al Shaer were detained in front of the journalists syndicate as they were leaving the demonstration commemorating the anniversary of police violence against journalists and protesters the previous year. “Only two days before the protest, both Mohamed [Al Sharkawy] and Karim [Al Shaer] had been released from prison for their earlier participation in protests.”

In his call for their release, Al Islam says that they “remain unjustly imprisoned and subjected to torture and ill-treatment for criticizing the lack of democratic freedoms in Egypt.”

President Hosni Mubarak recently announced that there will be “unprecedented reforms” in 2007, although Al Islam is not convinced.

“I can testify to the impact of international support, both in providing hope to imprisoned human rights defenders and in securing their release,” he says of the international communities efforts to support Egyptian activism.

Al Sharkawy has continued to smuggle letters out of his prison cell to friends who have visited him. In the first few letters, the alleged torture and sexual abuse that he suffered were revealed in explicit details.

Human Rights First has joined Al Islam in his call for their release and ask those individuals interested in helping the campaign to sign a letter that is to be sent to the president.

According to one of the editors of Ikhwan Web, a Brotherhood Web site, the number of detainees has decreased from over 900 since March and is down to less than 600 at present.

However, the list compiled by the Brotherhood is incomplete and they speculate that more detainees are still unaccounted for by the organization. Most of the Brotherhood activists detained were arrested at pro-reform demonstrations in support of judicial freedom over the past few months.

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