Several leftist parties denounced the arrest of 24 farmers in the city of Daqhaleya after police forces stormed the land to restore ownership to the family of a businessman.
The incident happened Saturday as farmers from the village of Srso protested on the land, where they clashed with relatives of businessman Farid El-Masry, who also claims ownership to the land.
During and after the clashes, police forces launched an arrest campaign, leading to the detention of the farmers, along with two members of the Socialist Popular Alliance party (SPAP).
SPAP commented on the police’s performance, saying: “What is troubling about the incident is using the police apparatus as a tool of “classist oppression”.”
The party claims that the police shot at the farmers, and left El-Masry’s “thugs” untouched.
The Mansoura police station said Monday that the arrested farmers were “illegally claiming the land”. The station said that orders came to clear the land from the farmers, to make way for the owners.
Since 2011, police forces in villages have been organising campaigns to “forcefully remove illegal violations to lands”.
The arrested farmers and their families were sent to the prosecution for investigations. Lawyer Wael Ghaly protested “insufficient cooperation” by the prosecution, after he wanted to prove that one of the detainees is a 7-month-old child.
Similarly, pro-government leftist party Al-Tagammu, demanded a quick investigation of the incident. The party said it will provide legal and political support for the farmers.
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) said that the family of El-Masry hired thugs to attack the farmers using firearms and threats, under the sight of the police. The human rights centre described the situation in the village as “a new series of conflict between the impoverished and the state supported businessmen”.
The leftist Al-Karamah Party’s branch in Daqhaleya said Sunday they stand in solidarity with the arrested farmers. They also demanded officials deal with the case in a method that “highlights social justice, away from the ‘horrible’ capitalist polices which steals from the farmers to enrich the landowners”.
The disputed land was originally given to the farmers by former president Gamal Abdel Nasser as a reward, for soldiers who took part in the 1968 Yemen war.
The legal dispute between the two sides has been evolving since 1994, with the farmers receiving a court’s decision to prove their ownership of the land.
However, in 2011 the Prosecution unit in Mansoura ordered to return the land to the family of El-Masry, “which involved the police and the state institution in the conflict”, the Al-Tagammu party said.
Last February, a similar incident took place where the two sides clashed, with a number of farmers arrested.
The Socialist Popular Alliance party called upon the officials to “apply the constitution and release all of the detainees and the party members accused of solidarity with the farmers”.
The party’s branch in Daqhaleya described the incident as a part of the “coup done by former president Anwar El-Sadat against the principles of the 23 July revolution”.
After the 23 July revolution, thousands of lands acres were confiscated from notables and Turkish landowners, and later given to thousands of farmers. During El-Sadat’s presidency, the agriculture law ordered giving back some of the land to its original owners.
In 1994, under the reign of ousted president Mubarak, a new law to regulate the rent of agriculture land, made way for more businessmen to take it to court to demand their land.
In the 1990s, more violent clashes happened between riot police forces and farmers refusing to abandon their “confiscated” land.