Human Rights Watch (HRW), among other human rights organisations, demanded the Egyptian authorities release university students arrested since the start of the academic year on October 11 2014.
HRW added that, in an attempt to thwart any opposition in campuses, security forces arrested at least 71 students in 15 governorates on 11 October, using police personnel in civilian clothes. Another 61 were arrested on 12 and 13 October in clashes between students and riot police in university campuses.
The human rights watchdog said that the arrested students were calling for academic freedom, the release of detained students, as well as expressing opposition to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
“The arrests and subsequent activities appear to be solely directed at the students’ peaceful exercise of the right to free assembly.”
Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Universities should be safe zones for the exchange of ideas, including political debates” adding that “this [students arrests] is a pre-emptive strike on free speech and free assembly.”
Also, six civil society and human rights organisations condemned, in a joint statement released on Tuesday, the latest storming of Alexandria University campus and the organised campaign to arrest members of the Students Against Coup (SAC) group and other activists
The statement added that the latest arrests included more than 70 students from universities across different campuses. The statement also made reference to the 900 student detainees from that last academic year, adding that the current campaign is a systematic crackdown on the student movement and will not stop the waves of violence in campuses.
“The crackdown is one of the many polices of limiting freedom of speech mobilisation by the current government.”
The signatory of the statement included the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Nazra for Feminist Studies, and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
Students Against Coup (SAC) spokesperson Youssef Saleheen claimed police gathered and closed the gates of Cairo University in anticipation of protests.
The main roads leading to Al-Nahda Square near Cairo University were closed by riot police who stood guard outside the campus, according to the Ministry of Interior’s media centre.
The ministry added that a “large number of forces are patrolling the streets surrounding the university to response to any threats”
Protests took place in the universities of Menufiya, Ain Shams, Damanhour, Helwan, and Port s
Said condemning what SAC called the “massacre” of Alexandria University.
At Al-Azhar University, SAC reported that seven students were arrested as police forces broke into the campus.
In Zagazig University, campus security along with police forces stormed into the university arresting two students, said SAC.
The Ministry of Interior denied the arrests took place.
The Alexandria branch of SAC said on Tuesday that police used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse student protests, and raided buildings inside the Alexandria University campus, leaving 28 injuries with one student being struck in the head, and 30 arrests.
The group argued that there are no human rights or freedom of speech in Egypt, as students, professors, and campuses are being raided by security forces – promising more protests to take place in university campuses across the country.
The Ministry of Interior however said that 250 students from the university were trying to destroy the campus gates and were throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at security personnel, before police arrested 37 of them.
The clashes, the ministry said, left two policemen injured.
Misr Al-Qawia party condemned the storming of the Alexandria University by the police forces, which lead to the arrest of tens of students. “Many of arrested were female students who were detained in police stations and were prevented from appointing a lawyer and were denied to family visits.”
“Although we refuse any violent method of expression, we severely refuse the state’s usage of oppression and murder against students,” the party said. “Such polices proved to be ineffective, showing that the government is intimidated and confused.”
Mohamed Mahsoob, vice president of Al-Wasat Party condemned the security response to the student protests. He added that “the pictures of the injured students in university are similar to those of the Rabaa square massacre.”