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Egypt: Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood Deepens

Government Must Release Detainees Without Delay

(Cairo, October 26, 2006) – In a new round of arbitrary arrests, the Egyptian government has expanded its crackdown against members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The government should immediately release all members of the nonviolent organization imprisoned in the government’s months-long campaign, Human Rights Watch said today.

" Once again, the Egyptian authorities are relying on illegitimate laws to imprison members of the political opposition. Day after day, month after month, the government tramples on the rights of Egyptian citizens to ensure that it maintains its monopoly on power. "
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch
  

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Country Page, July 11, 2006

Most recently, State Security forces on October 17 detained eight additional members of the organization from the Manufiyya governorate, north of Cairo. The arrests are the latest in a crackdown the government began in March against the Muslim Brotherhood, which – although officially banned – constitutes the country’s largest opposition group, with 88 out of 454 seats in Parliament.  
 
Human Rights Watch has collected the names of 792 members of the organization who have been detained between March and mid-October. According to the Muslim Brotherhood, 62 remain in custody, 33 of them without charge under provisions of Egypt’s Emergency Law, which allows the government to indefinitely detain people without charge, trial or legal recourse. The other 29 are in prison on charges of “belonging to an illegal organization.”  
 
“Once again, the Egyptian authorities are relying on illegitimate laws to imprison members of the political opposition,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Day after day, month after month, the government tramples on the rights of Egyptian citizens to ensure that it maintains its monopoly on power.”  
 
Human Rights Watch welcomed the release on October 18 of Mahmud `Izzat, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood and a member of the group’s Guidance Council. In one of its numerous sweeps, police arrested `Izzat and 16 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood on August 25 after storming a house in Kafr al-Shaikh governorate while a meeting was in session. But other members – including `Issam al-Din Muhammad Husain al-`Irian, the head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Political Committee, and Muhammad Mursi, the head of the Parliamentary Committee – remain in prison. The government has never explained why it has carried out these arrests, why it has released some, and why it continues to detain others.  
 
“`Izzat’s release is good news,” said Whitson. “But the government had no business arresting him in the first place. Dozens of other Muslim Brotherhood members remain jailed without any justification whatsoever.”  
 
Article 86(bis) of Egypt’s Penal Code criminalizes membership in an organization that “impairs the national unity or social peace.” Such broad definitions invite abuse. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Egypt has undertaken to uphold the right to freedom of association. Article 22 of the covenant specifies that the only permissible exceptions to this right are those “which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights of others.” These exceptions are narrowly framed, and the burden of demonstrating their needs in specific cases rests with the state. The internationally recognized right to freedom of association requires that the state justify the banning of an organization by showing that this extreme measure is necessary to achieve a specific and legitimate purpose within one of the enumerated exceptions.  
 
The Egyptian government has never convincingly justified its continued categorization of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has renounced violence since the 1970s, as an illegal organization. But the authorities still use its illegality as the pretext for arresting its members.  
 
“The Muslim Brotherhood’s members, and members of any other peaceful political organization in Egypt, have the right to associate freely,” Whitson said. “The Muslim Brotherhood should not be banned, and its members should be freed.”  
 
The government also relies on its broad powers of detention under the Emergency Law to imprison people without charge, in some cases for years, in violation of its international treaty commitments. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights holds that: “No one shall be subject to arbitrary arrest or detention,” that “anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of his arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him,” and guarantees the right to a trial.  
 
Moreover, Egypt is a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, whose provisions may not be suspended even in a state of emergency. The African Charter guarantees that, “no one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained.”  
 
“A state of emergency that has been in effect for 25 years is no longer an emergency,” Whitson said. “The government uses its emergency law as a flimsy justification to suspend rights permanently.”  
 
According to a lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood, the following members were held without charge under the terms of the Emergency Law as of October 18:  
     
  1. Usama Muhammad Amin Hassan, Damietta governorate, detained April 10, 2006  
  2. Hussam al-Sayyid al-Tamimi, Damietta governorate, detained April 10, 2006  
  3. `Abd al-Nabi `Ali `Abd al-Nabi, Bahariyya governorate, detained July 7, 2006  
  4. Ahmad Husain Awad Ghazlan, Bahariyya governorate, detained July 17, 2006  
  5. Bilal al-Sayyid al-Sadiq Muhammad, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained August 13, 2006  
  6. Abdullah Muhammad Muhammad `Attiyya, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained August 13, 2006  
  7. Al-Sayyid `Abd al-Hadi Muhammad Faraj, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained August 13, 2006  
  8. Muhammad al-Sayyid `Abd al-Salam al-Shinnawi, Cairo governorate, detained August 16, 2006  
  9. Kamal Muhammad Hassan Suliman, Kafr al-Shaikh governorate, detained August 19, 2006  
  10. Hamada Muhammad Ism`ail Ahmad Sa`ad, Kafr al-Shaikh governorate, detained August 21, 2006  
  11. `Abd al-Qadir Salama Hassan Suliman, Kafr al-Shaikh governorate, detained August 21, 2006  
  12. Ahmad `Abd al-Mun`im Yunis, Bahariyya governorate, detained August 25, 2006  
  13. Khalil Muhammad Yusif, Bahariyya governorate, detained August 25, 2006  
  14. `Abd al-Nassir al-Sayyid `Ali, Bahariyya governorate, detained August 25, 2006  
  15. Yasir Fu'ad `Abd al-`Alim, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained September 13, 2006  
  16. Nassir Salah `Attiyya, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained September 13, 2006  
  17. Al-Sayyid Ahmad al-Damardash Muhammad, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained September 13, 2006  
  18. Naji `Abd al-Halim al-Sayyid `Attiyya, al-Gharbiyya governorate, detained September 17, 2006  
  19. Mahmud Fu'ad al-Sayyid al-Shami, al-Gharbiyya governorate, detained September 17, 2006  
  20. Mahir Muhammad al-Malwiji al-Hawari, al-Gharbiyya governorate, detained September 17, 2006  
  21. Muhammad Mus`ad al-Sayyid `Ali Abu al-`Izz, al-Gharbiyya governorate, detained September 17, 2006  
  22. Khalid `Abd al-Hakim Alwan, Fayum governorate, detained October 7, 2006  
  23. Muhammad Sayyid `Urabi, Fayum governorate, detained October 7, 2006  
  24. Muhammad Rajab Muhammad, Fayum governorate, detained October 7, 2006  
  25. Imam Muhammad Muhammad al-Ads, Giza governorate, detained October 9, 2006  
  26. Muhamad `Abd al-Halim, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  27. Usama `Ammar, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  28. Abu-Bakr `Ali Salih al-Qutt, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  29. Salih `Uthman al-Nahrawi, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  30. Majdi `Abd al-`Aziz Shama, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  31. Ashraf Kamal Mustafa, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  32. Majdi Dandan, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
  33. Ahmad al-Khayat, Manufiyya governorate, detained October 12, 2006  
 
 
According to the same lawyer, the following members of the Muslim Brotherhood were held on charges of “belonging to an illegal organization” as of October 18:  
     
  1. `Issam al-Din Muhamad Husain al-`Irian, Case Number 533/2006, Giza governorate, detained May 18, 2006 (Head of Political Committee)  
  2. Muhammad Muhammad Mursi al-`Ayyat, Case Number 533/2006, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained May 18, 2006 (Head of Parliamentary Committee)  
  3. Ahmad Ibrahim Ahmad al-Halawani, Case Number 688/2006, Cairo governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  4. Mustafa Muhammad Salim Mustafa, Case Number 688/2006, Cairo governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  5. `Abd al-Ra`uf `Abd al-Mawla Hassan, Case Number 688/2006, Cairo governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  6. `Abd al-Qadir `Abd al-Hamid Mahjub, Case Number 688/2006, Giza governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  7. Khalid al-Shimi Muhammad Abu al-Dahab, Case Number 688/2006, Giza governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  8. Kamil Faruq Kamil Mayhub, Case Number 688/2006, Qalyubiyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  9. Tariq `Abd al-Fattah al-Sayyid `Abd al-Majid, Case Number 688/2006, Qalyubiyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  10. Muhsin Ramadan `Abd al-`Ail, Case Number 688/2006, Bani Suaif governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  11. Mahmud Badri Ahmad, Case Number 688/2006, Miniyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  12. Sayyid `Abd al-Majid Bakhit, Case Number 688/2006, Assiut governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  13. Muhammad Mahmud `Abd al-Rahman Sayyid, Case Number 688/2006, Suhaj governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  14. `Abd al-Salam As`ad Ibrahim, Case Number 688/2006, Suhaj governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  15. `Ali Hamid Muhammad al-Balshi, Case Number 688/2006, Manufiyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  16. Zidan Hassan Zain al-Din Shaltut, Case Number 688/2006, al-Gharbiyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  17. Ahmad Muhammad Swailan `Ali al-Alfi, Case Number 688/2006, al-Gharbiyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  18. Sa`id al-Shawadfi `Abd al-Latif, Case Number 688/2006, Suez governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  19. Muhammad Muhammad `Abd al-Mun`im al-Dasuqi, Case Number 688/2006, detained June 19, 2006  
  20. Na`im Awad Mustafa Nu`man, Case Number 688/2006, Damietta governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  21. `Adil Muhammad Rada Sharaf, Case Number 688/2006, Damietta governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  22. Fathallah Muhammad Sa`ad al-Najjar, Case Number 688/2006, North Sinai governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  23. Muhammad `Abd al-`Ail `Ali Ziyada, Case Number 688/2006, North Sinai governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  24. `Abd al-Nassir `Ali Abdullah Abu-`Alw, Case Number 688/2006, Alexandria governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  25. Ra'fat `Ali al-Sayyid `Abd al-`Aziz, Case Number 688/2006, Marsa Matruh governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  26. Mustafa Ahmad `Abd al-Mu`ti al-Muslimani, Case Number 688/2006, al-Bahariyya governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  27. Muhammad Sufi `Abd al-Wahid, Case Number 688/2006, al-Fayum governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  28. Mus`ad Mahmud Mus`ad, Case Number 688/2006, al-Fayum governorate, detained June 19, 2006  
  29. Hassan Muhammad Hassan Sayyid Ahmad al-Haywan, Case Number 1164/2005, al-Sharqiyya governorate, detained October 17, 2006.  

 

 
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