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Campaigners to picket Egyptian embassy to call for release of peace activists

Egypt solidarity | 10.09.2003 09:02 | Anti-militarism | Repression | London

Five Egyptian anti-war activists face up to 15 years in jail for contacting international human rights organisations. Campaigners in the UK will protest at the Egyptian embassy Friday 12th September to highlight their case.

Anti-war campaigners and leading trade unionists have thrown their weight behind a campaign to support jailed Egyptian peace activists. Former UN Assistant Secretary General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Hans von Sponeck, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, outspoken former MP Tony Benn and Stop the War’s national chair, Andrew Murray have signed an open letter to the Egyptian government condemning the prosecution of five Egyptian anti-war campaigners, who have been charged with contacting international human rights groups.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists and Paul Mackney, head of the college lecturers’ union Natfhe, and Kate Hudson, chair of CND are also backing the petition, which was launched at the Stop the War coalition’s People’s Assembly on 30 August. The petition was launched in response to an appeal by dozens of civil society groups in Cairo for solidarity with the five: Ashraf Ibrahim, Nasser Farouq, Yehia Fakry, Mustafa El Basiony and Remoan Edward.

Activists plan to picket the Egyptian embassy on Friday 12th September to draw attention to the case, which they say highlights the use of Egypt’s state security laws against political campaigners. A spokeswoman for the group said:

“Hundreds of Egyptian peace protesters were jailed and beaten in March this year after protests against the war on Iraq. International human rights groups rightly condemned the Egyptian government for its attempts to crush dissent. Now a small number of activists face up to 15 years in prison for letting the world know about this repression and expressing opinions different from those of their government. We are calling for the charges to be dropped, and we want to know why Tony Blair, who claims to care so much about democracy and freedom in Iraq, is backing Hosni Mubarak’s repressive regime.”

Friday 12 September, 5pm-6.30pm,
Egyptian Embassy, 26 South Street,
off Park Lane, W1 (nearest tube Green Park)

Petition text: Free Egyptian anti-war activists
Five Egyptian anti-war activists have been charged with forming an illegal socialist organisation and with contacting international human rights groups. Ashraf Ibrahim, Nasser Farouq, Yehia Fakry, Mustafa El Basiony and Remoan Edward face long terms in jail under Egypt’s harsh state security laws if convicted.

The five activists are being targeted because of their role in building campaigns against the war on Iraq and their work in solidarity with the Palestinian intifada. Despite brutal repression, activists in Egypt have built a movement which has mobilised tens of thousands in demonstrations, and inspired anti-war campaigners around the world. But the Egyptian government has met peaceful protest with beatings and mass arrests. And the British and US governments have done nothing to defend the democratic rights of the Egyptian people—instead they have continued to back Hosni Mubarak’s repressive regime.

§ We call on the Egyptian government to drop the charges against Ashraf Ibrahim, Nasser Farouq, Yehia Fakry, Mustafa El Basiony and Remoan Edward.
§ We call on Tony Blair to end British support for the Egyptian government while basic democratic rights are denied to the Egyptian people.

Signatories: (all in a personal capacity)
Hans von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
Andrew Murray, Chair, Stop the War
Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
Tony Benn, former Labour MP
Jeremy Corbyn, MP
Paul Mackney, General Secretary, NATFHE
Jeremy Dear, General Secretary, NUJ
Kate Hudson, CND
Nick Wrack, National Chair, Socialist Alliance
Tom Whittaker, National Executive, National Union of Students (pc)
Asad Rehman, Newham Monitoring Project
Aisha Khan, Just Peace

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