Egypt Watch

Amnesty: Egypt witnessed the largest wave of mass arrests since al-Sisi came to power

On Thursday, Amnesty International said in a statement that the Egyptian authorities have launched the largest crackdown yet under al-Sisi, following the arrest of more than 2,300 people, including at least 111 children.

Amnesty International condemned the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters, lawyers, journalists and political activists by the Egyptian authorities.

“The government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has orchestrated the largest mass arrests to eliminate the slightest sign of dissent and silence the voice of every political opponent,” said Najia Bounaim, campaign manager for North Africa at Amnesty International.

She added: “Participating in a peaceful protest is not a crime. The Egyptian authorities’ appalling response to peaceful demonstrations demonstrates their utter contempt for human rights, and shows a blatant disregard for the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression.”

Bounaim called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release anyone detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of assembly or peaceful expression.

Amnesty said small protests in several Egyptian cities began on 20 September, and the Egyptian authorities sought to prevent the second round of protests on 27 September by closing large parts of downtown Cairo and carrying out mass arrests.

According to the Biladi Centre for Rights and Freedoms, at least 111 children, aged between 11 and 17, are among the detainees. Amnesty International has documented the arrest of five children, three of whom were buying school supplies and clothing from downtown Cairo at the time. Two were returning home from school in Suez.

Amnesty International also verified a video showing plainclothes “informants” beating and arresting a 17-year-old boy in central Cairo.

Amnesty International has also documented the arrest of 10 journalists and at least 25 politicians and academics from four different political parties. They include Khaled Daoud, a journalist and former chairman of the liberal Constitution Party, as well as political science professors Hassan Nafaa and Hazem Hosni.

Amnesty International said that the Egyptian authorities had dealt a severe blow to the defendants’ right to legal defence, after at least four were arrested while on duty.

Amnesty International has confirmed that it considers lawyer Muhammad al-Baqer a prisoner of conscience held solely for his work in the defence of victims of human rights violations. The organisation also demanded his immediate and unconditional release.