EIPR and AFTE condemn the arrest of 21 women in Alexandria: repressive practices no different from prior to the January 25th revolution

Press Release

10 November 2013

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression condemned the arrest of 21 women ages 15 to 22, among them 12 minors, who formed a human chain on the Alexandria corniche on Thursday morning. They were detained for 15 days pending investigation and their lawyers’ appeal of the remand order was denied.

Security forces arrested the women and transferred them to the Alexandria Security Directorate, where they were brought before the Public Prosecution. They were charged with membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to obstruct the operation of the law, promoting the goals of the Brotherhood in word and writing, possession and acquisition of printed material, assembly, making a show of force and intimating violence, obstructing public transport and destruction of moveable property.

Asmaa Ali, the spokeswoman for the “Seven AM movement”, said that the human chain was supposed to take place near the Stanley Bridge after a protest organized by the movement in Sidi Bishr. She said that although there were minor skirmishes between protestors and local residents when the protest passed through Syria Street, they were quickly contained. Protest participants arrived to the site of the human chain where they were attacked by security forces, who arrested 22 participants. The prosecutor’s office detained them for 15 days pending investigation; the minors were placed in the Defense Care Facility in Muharram Bek while the adult women were sent to the Damanhour women’s prison.

The EIPR and AFTE reject these practices, which are no different from the practices of the repressive authorities in the decades before the 25 January revolution. The incident comes amid security forces’ ongoing violations of freedom of expression, demonstration and peaceful assembly. The two organizations stressed that the right to demonstrate and organize peaceful assemblies is a fundamental, inalienable right of all citizens. These abuses of demonstrators are unacceptable, especially when directed at women, who have long fought against all practices designed to exclude them from politics and public space through intimidation, bullying and direct targeting—practices which continue as demonstrated by the arrests in Alexandria.