Presidential pardon: cautious optimism

Reports in the governmental egyption media mentioned that the council of ministers approved a draft of resolution of presidential pardon. The egyption president has the right to give pardon to prisoners according to rule Num. 155 of the constitution, after taking the opinion of the council of ministers to pardon or decrease the punishment.

So, Egyption president gives this pardon from time to time which usually coincides with national religious occasions like the 6th October victory, 25th January revolution, etc.

The media announced from their security resources that this pardon would include political prisoners. Alot of human rights workers and lawyers expressed their hope, particularly the egyption security system faces a lot of criticism about the human rights condition nationwide recently.

Cautious Optimism

Number of human rights workers said on social media that they are hoping that the high wave of criticism may reflect on prisoners’ conditions. They expect that hundreds of political prisoners may find their way to freedom soon. In this context, the lawyer Nasser Amin wrote on his facebook account that he hopes Shady Abozaid will be included in the pardon list. Shady now is serving sentence of 6 months imprisonment. This punishment came after Shady spent more than two years in prison. He was arrested and kept in custody in May 2018, then the criminal judge let him off in October 2020. So he came back to his family’s house before he was arrested again last month. 

Shady is a young man, 22 years old, was producing funny videos on the internet. On 25th January day from 5 years ago, Shady produced a video from Tahrir Square through it gave policemen balloons made from condoms. That was his crime, for that he is in  the prison in very bad conditions till now. It’s disappointing to know that Shady’s case is not individual as there are thousands of opponents imprisoned for publishing issues. 

Recently this year, while the world is feeling worry about Covid-19 (Coronavirus) spread, the egyption security system jailed a lot of doctors for publishing issues. Only because they criticized the shortage in the national health system. Some of these doctors are still being kept in custody. Briefly, the scale of publishing issues is very wide, all criticism to the country system (even health care) comes under political opponent, and so on deserve the prison. 

European efforts 

Throught last few days, the Italian government put Regini’s murder case on fire, the Italian Public Prosecutions determined four egyption policmen in different ranks, said they are responsible for the crime. On the other hand, the european statement said that Sisi’s security aims to hide the  details of the crime to secure the criminals. This attack came at the same time which the political police officers jailed three of HR workers, just after interviewing with european diplomats. 

The european bloc demanded release of the three members in Egyption Initiative for human rights and made a success in a few days of pressure on the military system in Egypt. The report of the European Parliament asked their governments to press on Sisi’s system to improve the conditions of the opponents. The European parliament named a number of them like Alaa Abdulfatah, his sister Sanaa Seif, the journalist Kamel Elbalshy, the previous presidential candidate Abdulmoneam Abulfotoh, and others who were jailed because of their political opinion, not involved in violent events. 

The pressure on Sisi’s security system these days will make the expected changes, the optimists hope. This pressure comes while the Egyption government tries to bleach his face before the new american president takes over the leadership of the western bloc. The last four years, Sisi was being secured by his beloved friend Donald Trump who named him as his favorite dictator. Till now it is unclear if the egyption government decided firstly to drag the european bloc to a pre-emptive battle before the arrival of Joe Biden or vice versa! 

Hossam Bahgat, Egyption journalist , said on facebook account “there is a group of officers who decided to work individually to counter attack against the opponent related to Europe, but the side effects seemingly looked like disastrous”. The egyption system comes up against some problems abroad, for this cause he is acting violently. For example, the gulf crisis is about to be solved. While the egyption situation is undetermined also, Sisi’s friend in Libya (Hafter) is in another hard situation, negotiations on ethiopian dam also reached a dead end.

A Lot of optimism is harmful

Number of activists exported pessimistic point of view toward the presidential pardon. The cause behind their opinion is that the National Security Sector in Egypt while international media and human rights organisations called for relieving the security control, they didn’t show any response. Instead of that, they continue jailing  more and more activists. 6th Of running December, the criminal judge sentenced continuation of jailiry 639 political prisoners. Patric George, Egyption initiative for human rights member, was one of them, in spite of attendance of diplomatic delegations to the court hall. Events like this show how the military system tend to practice more and mor restrictions on human rights conditions.

The opposition on social media described the political system as thick skinned as he doesn’t show any intention to the international criticism. In parallel line, national media related to security sector, counter attack against Italy and European parliament. The journalists and TV presenters accused the European countries of interference in National affairs. 

Finally, while the international organisations devoted to support the civil society organisations in developing countries observe conditions in Egypt, the security system refuses to perform any internal reforms. Will the presidential pardon be the start point of reforms? Only the coming few days will tell us.