The independent group Campaign Against the Arbitrary Arrest of Students organised a press conference Sunday at the headquarters of the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) to discuss the situation of students detained at Cairo University during January clashes.
The group’s representative, Ossama Nabil, who is a student in the Faculty of Commerce at Cairo University, told of his experience during clashes with security forces on 16 January.
“The university campus was turned into a war zone on that day,” said Nabil. After he finished his exam at around 3pm, he said Central Security Forces (CSF) stormed the university campus in armoured personnel carriers. Nabil said he witnessed an injured student lying in front of the university’s main building after being hit in the knee with birdshot.
“I saw CSF forces arresting any student [they saw] on campus and they patrolled it as far as the metro entrance at the other end,” Nabil said. “The university staff from the Faculty of Science was trying to get the students inside the building to avoid their arrest.”
AFTE lawyer Amr Hassan said 42 students were detained, with 31 were arrested on campus and 11 were arrested outside.
According to Hassan, such arrests were “arbitrary” since the arrested students had no political affiliation. Instead, he said, they were having their exams at the time and documents proving as much were presented to the prosecution.
The detained students were beaten during arrest and are being kept in the Kilo 10.5 CSF camp in the Giza Suburb of 6 October, Hassan said. The case is still being investigated, but the students have been charged with murder, attempted murder, possession of firearms, use of force, damaging public and private property and protesting without a permit.
Foud Abdel Gawad, father of student Abdel Rahman, also known as Boshkash, says that his son missed the remainder of his exams because of his detention.
The Campaign Against the Arbitrary Arrest of Students is an independent group formed by the friends and family of student detainees after CSF stormed Cairo University on 16 January.
The group made a statement that day demanding the release of all detained students while at the same time condemning the actions of the Students Against the Coup (SAC), a group they blamed for breaking into and vandalising a dean’s office. The students also condemned the presence of security forces on campus.
Since the beginning of the school year SAC have been protesting on an almost daily basis. Clashes have erupted several times in Al-Nahda Square in front of the university’s main entrance. Engineering student Mohamed Reda died last November after clashes with Security Forces with SAC.
Cairo University’s chairman, unlike other university chairmen, refused to grant security forces access to campus until mid-year examinations last December. Another student was reported dead on 16 January when CSF stormed Cairo University for the first time.