Hashem Farghali: Labor leader’s arrest on the Revolution anniversary tells where we arrived

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In June 2005, the first screening of the movie Sayed Al-Atefy (The Emotional Sayed) by the famous screenwriter Bilal Fadl took place. In the scene of the development of events in the film, a young man who suffers from the injustice of his uncle, a businessman who seized the inheritance of his grandfather and father to him alone, was Sayed Al-Shahat, played by Tamer Hosni, standing alone in front of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, while holding up a picture of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, with a Nazi swastika on his face.

Everyone gathered behind Sayed while Umm Sayed (Sayed’s mother), played by Abla Kamel, was standing. A simple, elderly woman asked her about the reason for the gathering, and Umm Sayed replied that it was related to “the Israelis and what they do to us, oh need.” But Umm Sayed asked her to stand with them, saying, “It’s all exhausting, O need.” With the celebration of the anniversary of the January 25th revolution approaching, the security forces arrested and forcibly disappeared labour activist Muhammad Hashem Farghali, a worker at the Public Transport Authority, according to what was announced by the Trade Union Services House, a non-governmental organization concerned with workers’ rights. The day after Farghali’s arrest, the security forces stormed his house and seized a computer and a printer. The home said that there was news that he was presented to the prosecution secretly and without informing his lawyer or contacting his relatives. At the same time, the worker suffered from heart disease and high pressure and was preparing for eye surgery. The home demanded the disclosure of the reason for his detention, his location and the date of his presentation to the Public Prosecution office to enable him to contact his family and his lawyer to defend him.

Hit file owners

Farghali was previously arrested earlier in 2016 due to calls for a strike at the start of the academic year at the time, to demand some rights, from increasing bonuses for employees of the Public Transport Authority to periodic and annual bonuses, disbursement of the nature of work, infection allowance, risks, and an increase in administrative incentive and others, to be imprisoned. Four months before being released. Security forces usually arrest people with political or human rights opinions when they do something, starting from an attempt to protest to expressing views on the government’s general policies, even if it is on personal pages that are closed to their owners and close circles.

However, in the seasons, the government usually tends to reopen the old files, as the files of political detainees at the National Security are full of potential protesters, and this is generally done as a matter of prevention, and sometimes even on the possibility that those who are potential to do something will be arrested during those events. And suppose this strategy aims to secure the regime for itself in advance from any forms of protest. In that case, it has a second, more distant goal, which is to use the “marbout” or those who have been arrested previously to intimidate the “sayers” who have not been arrested before and have the same orientation and form, which makes the activists preoccupied with the question: Why were these arrested? Do I say what he says to be on the list of potential detainees?

No rights here

The government and security usually fear trade union work. The trade unions are spread horizontally and vertically in the governorates of the republic, and their activists vary between human rights activists and politicians. Indeed, the trade unions sparked protests a few years before the January Revolution in Mahalla and elsewhere. The security fears any political intrusion into the trade unions, mainly since any syndicate model interested in political action will produce one of the strongest, heaviest and most widespread pillars of political activity. Farghali here, as an example, expresses the trade union situation in Egypt in light of the security blockade, where activists are interested in workers’ rights. However, they pursue a policy of separating the material rights of workers in general from political and economic issues, their issues are directly related to them, and what margin of freedom It may result in a solid political and human rights organization.

In November 2017, the former parliament issued the so-called “Youth Organizations and Labor Organizations” law, which jurists considered to be working to impose control over trade union organizations, as legislation for trade union freedoms must allow workers to choose the form they express, which means that the law strikes at the independence of the organization associative. The law provides for the freedom to form trade union organizations without discrimination, as well as to join or withdraw from them, but that is following what is determined by the provisions of the law that imposes on trade unions to legalize their conditions or establish them by the requirements of the law, in which the minister is competent to request the dissolution of trade union councils from the Labor Court.

The government used the law to organize trade unions and intervened by itself, not to besiege the elected trade union councils by threatening dissolution, but rather to form them themselves. Who is the state afraid of, and what degree of independence he enjoys. With the apparent economic and living deterioration of workers in Egypt and the increasing rates of inflation, workers, as individuals and groups of colleagues, are looking to expand their incomes by demanding additional material rights necessary for living. These demands in government bodies end with arrests and an immediate security termination. In contrast, in the private sector, security besieges and monitors from afar in favour of corporate administrations. When the protest develops into an audible voice, the security intervenes immediately to arrest them.