The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) is lobbying President Mohammed Morsy to hold accountable those who cut off communication networks during the 25 January violence at the beginning of last year’s revolution.
“Our organisation works for the right to have access to telephone and internet and we believe that a lack of that access was one of the main reasons for the high number of martyrs and injured on 25 January,” said Rawda Ahmed CEO and lawyer at ANHRI. “They couldn’t get in contact with ambulances or any other help. The government took advantage of the protestors who were there.”
The letter focuses on two periods in late January when communication lines were turned off as former President Hosni Mubarak’s government scrambled for a way to subdue the growing uprising in the centre of Cairo. ANHRI and others have pointed to this act as stoking the chaos that caused so many protestors to die.
Ahmed said that those responsible have been allowed to avoid prosecution for 20 months now.
“We are now trying to get the president’s name involved, especially because in all of his speeches he talks about the ‘blood of the martyrs’ and avenging their deaths,” said Ahmed. “We wrote him a letter on 6 November, and in the coming days we await recognition. He doesn’t have the space to say we didn’t inform him.”
AHNRI have worked for over a year with the protestors who suffered that day. The organisation sat down with protestors and helped to draft a complaint that was then filed by each of the individuals to the prosecutor general. Then AHNRI also filed an additional grievance as an organisation. After these reports were filed the case was moved to a military court and no notification has since been available to AHNRI.
Emad Mubarak, a human rights lawyer, confirmed that in April 2011 there was an administrative court order aimed at finding Ahmed Nazif, then prime minister, and Hosni Mubarak guilty of cutting communication.
“This was an administrative decision,” said Mubarak, “it didn’t include any investigations. If this letter [from ANHRI] is actually calling for investigations that would mean interrogating the ministers who attended a meeting the day the communications were cut. The prosecutor general would have to interrogate the minister of the interior, the minister of defence, the minister of communications, as well as the prime minister.”
Mubarak said that Morsy’s position limits him from taking the case directly to the prosecution. “The president doesn’t really have that authority. He could refer the letter to the Ministry of Justice and they would be able to open an investigation.”
ANHRI is instead directing their appeals to President Morsy as supreme commander of the armed forces. In this role, they say, he can both pressure the military courts to be transparent, revealing the progress and results of their investigations thus far, and also “hire a new military prosecutor who has justice as his top priority and can move this case toward a resolution.”