A close ally of Platform’s was jailed for two years for her activism on Tuesday. Mahienour El-Massry is an inspiring Egyptian human rights lawyer, who led the way in challenging police brutality in Alexandria. Mahienour helped communities demand environmental justice, factory workers to fight for their rights and has been on the frontline of the Egyptian revolution.
She’s being punished for standing up to injustice.
Mahienour is a path-breaker. She’s a crucial voice in demanding climate justice in Egypt. She helped us travel across the Nile Delta, learning from small farmers and fisherfolk how they are being devastated by rising temperatures and sea levels. Mahienour is playing a key role in articulating how the rural poor and working class communities in Alexandria will suffer most.
Before Mahienour’s trial on Tuesday, she vowed on Facebook to keep fighting:
“We oppose an oppressive authority that imprisons people unjustly and lets go of murderers. … We do not like the prisons but we are not afraid of them.”
Together with eight others, Mahienour was sentenced for a protest on 2 December 2013, outside the trial of policemen charged with the 2010 brutal murder of blogger Khaled Said, a symbol of the revolution. The demonstration was organised by Khaled Said’s mother, who refused to obtain permission for it: “The protest is against the police. How do you expect us to ask permission from the institution we are protesting against?” Mahienour was sentenced under the repressive anti-protest law that Egypt’s military-appointed regime decreed in November, which outlaws all protests that take place without its authorisation.
The targeting of Mahienour and her fellow activists marks a wider crack-down on dissent. Recent months have seen scores of arrests and the banning of leftist and liberal groups. There are now thousands of political prisoners in Egypt, and repression is not limited to Islamists. It’s becoming harder to mobilise – whether for workers’ rights, against the proposed imports of coal or against the military-driven arrests of gay and transgender Egyptians.
“The state keeps imagining that with its laws, prisons, and dogs it can protect itself. But even if you gather all of us in prison, the revolution will continue.”
Egyptian protestors gave us all enormous inspiration since January 2011, boosting struggles for justice elsewhere. As they face a brutal counter-revolution, it’s time for us to reciprocate with solidarity.
Platform will be supporting efforts to defend Egyptian political prisoners. Here are some actions to start with:
- Like the Free Mahienour page on Facebook
- Tweet with the #FreeMahienour hashtag
- A campaigning workshop on Resistance, Revolution, Repression in Egypt will take place this Saturday in London, and discuss how to build support for Mahienour and all Egyptian political prisoners.
- Protest at the Egyptian embassy in London at 4pm on 5 June
- A Global Day of Action is being planned – more soon.