I spoke in my previous article about our heroes who are known for their struggle in defending the unknown heroes. Today, my article is about the unknown heroes behind prison bars.
Atef is young physician graduated from Alexandria University and specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology. He was getting ready for his wedding day before he was arrested in a random security raid the authorities conducted in November 2013 in front of El-Mansheyya court in Alexandria. The campaign took part within Atef’s presence in the area for personal reasons. Two years passed since the arrest of the young physician, who was dreaming of a bright future in his country.
Atef and those who were arrested in the same incident remained in custody for more than 11 months without referral of the case to the court. After several attempts and continuous reports from the detainees’ families to the Attorney General, the case was referred to the Criminal Court. The Public Prosecution accused the defendants a number of common charges in such cases, most prominently demonstrating, disrupting public security and safety, blocking the roads and other accusations.
The trial was postponed several times, once because it was difficult to bring one of the defendants, who was taking an exam in Tora Prison in Maadi, Cairo. Another time it was postponed for procedural reasons. Now the defendants are approaching two years in prison without trial, exceeding the period stipulated by the law for pre-trial detention.
What crime did Atef commit to be kept so unjustly in prison all that period? How would he cope with returning to society after staying two years behind bars without mercy? What future does this young physician will have after he was unjustly imprisoned for being in the wrong place at the wrong time? What life can this obstetrician grant the baby he delivers to live with dignity after his dignity was violated and he suffered oppression and injustice?
A young lawyer from Alexandria, Al-Attar was arrested by security forces at his home a year ago. During a search of the home, security personnel found nothing but a fasting calendar with a picture of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. That was the only evidence obtained during the search, which included examination of his phone and computer. Since that day, Karim Al-Attar has been kept in pre-trial detention at Burj Al-Arab prison, where his detention is renewed again and again. Al-Attar’s first baby was born when he was in custody.
Al-Attar studied law and worked as a lawyer in courtrooms defending the oppressed. Now, he is innocent behind bars. You can imagine how he feels, having learned during his legal training that the accused are innocent until proven otherwise. A year in pre-detention has passed. He was unable to see his child born into this world or his family’s happiness at the birth. Al-Attar should be in courtrooms defending people, not in prison. Many like Al-Attar are left in prisons without clear charges. State officials keep saying that he is not facing any criminal charges, as is the case with many others. Then why are they not released?
Ahmed Abdel Ghani Bedaiwi
A fourth-year engineering student at Al-Azhar University, Bedaiwi was a member of the university union and secretary of the Strong Egypt movement there. Security forces arrested him in the vicinity of Al-Fateh Mosque in Ramses during the events of 16 August 2013.
Two years later, he is still serving time in prison, despite not having been convicted of a crime. Bedaiwi published a letter at the private-owned newspaper Al-Shorouk on 16 October in 2014, also his 400th day of hunger strike.
“They accused me of violence; they are harder to believe than science fiction films,” he wrote.
“Waiting 400 days behind bars awaiting justice. A wasted life, a future lost, and a dream that is no longer achievable. Who will give me, and other youths, those days back?”
How do you think he feels, having spent over 830 days in prison without a verdict? Bedaiwi could have graduated and started working to support his family. Prison kept him away from doing that.
Where they should have been
Atef the doctor, Al-Attar the lawyer, and Bedaiwi the engineer; they all should have been serving their country instead of serving time in prison unjustly. Many others just like these three are having their lives drained and their health abused inside prisons, kept in pre-trial detention well past the periods of time stipulated by law.
Tarek ‘Tito’ Hussein handles the files of political detainees, rights and freedoms at Al-Dostour Party, a political opposition party. He is the brother of anti-torture t-shirt detainee Mahmoud Hussein