Days before the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, police forces continue to arrest politically affiliated activists from different fields, in anticipation of mass protests and gatherings.
The campaign has been ongoing since calls for another wave of protests have been circulating online, calling upon Egyptians to protest. However, the rate of the arrests increased last Thursday as five individuals were detained in three separate incidents.
The first incident included a worker in the Arab Polvara Spinning and Weaving Company, Saed Shehata, who was arrested from his private residence by the National Security apparatus. He was held in Al-Dekheila police station before being referred to the prosecution on charges of protesting without a permit.
The prosecution ordered his detention to be renewed for 15 days. According to sources in the factory, they said Saturday that Shehata was protesting to “end the privatisation of the company”. The sources said Shehata was one of the workers who was “calling upon the government to intervene and end attempts of selling the company to the private sector, which will result in the ‘dismissal of thousands of workers’”.
Company workers have been protesting for weeks, accusing the current management of “highlighting losses only to convince the government of selling the company”.
A joint statement published Saturday by a number of leftist parties and personnel demanded the immediate release of Shehata and the “halting [of] attempts to oppress workers”.
“Are the workers supposed to stay silent when the factory they are working in is being sold and when their colleagues are being fired,” the statement read. It demanded that the government “stop reopening closed public sector-owned factories” and to “issue a labour law that ensures freedom for syndicate workers”.
Leftist politician and former presidential candidate Khaled Ali commented on the incident on his official page. “For the millionth time, oppression is not a sign of a strong regime but a sign of a weak regime,” he said.
In another incident, three individuals were arrested from their house in the Al-Falaki area in downtown Cairo. The three are physicians, including head of the Freedoms Committee at the Doctors’ Syndicate, Taher Mokhtar, activist and NGO worker Ahmed Hassan, and student Hossam Hamad.
They were arrested Thursday afternoon, according to their lawyer Mokhtar Mounir, who said they were transferred to Abdeen police station and interrogated by the National Security apparatus. They were then referred to the Abdeen prosecution unit Friday, which accused them of “possessing leaflets calling for the fall of the regime”, according to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).
AFTE said among the evidence found were computers, laptops, mobile phones, and papers belonging to protest groups and awareness campaigns, and banners with the words “military coup” on them.
The Ministry of Interior said Saturday that the arrests were not arbitrary and were done with the cooperation of the National Security apparatus and with an order form the prosecution.
The Doctor’s Syndicate commented on the arrest of its member Taher Mokhtar, saying that the banners and papers, which were confiscated as evidence, are part of Mokhtar’s job as “head of the freedoms file, which is entitled to follow up on the medical status of prisoners in detentions”.
The El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence called for the release of Mokhtar and described him as a doctor who never denied treatment to anyone who needed medical care. Several entities and NGO demanded the release of Mokhtar, who is known for documenting alleged violations against sick prisoners in places of detention, an issue that has been the cause of major controversy in Egypt.
The most recent incident witnessed the storming of the headquarters Misr Al-Arabyia news website and the temporary detention of one journalist, Ahmed Abdel Gawad.
Abdel Gawad was released by the prosecution after it described the report filed against the news website as “unclear”. The prosecution said the content of the website did not include content that was “flawed” or that “[aimed] to threaten National Security”.