Egypt’s ruling military council cracks down on freedoms

by Maha Al Aswad

From the left: Reem Maged-Hossam Al Hamalawy- Nabil Sharaf El Din

Today Hossam Al Hamalawy, Reem Maged and Nabil Sharaf El Din were summoned for interrogation at military prosecution ‘C28’ for exposing the military violations and expressing their opinions about SCAF performance in the transitional period.

Hossam Al Hamalawy was a guest speaker in Reem Maged’s TV show “Baladna Bel Masry on the independent TV Channel ON TV. He condemned military trials of civilians and the military police violations that has been going on. That was on the eve of May 27th planned protests. Reem discussed the topic openly and brought more than a point of view, yet this wasn’t enough apparently for SCAF. [Here is exact text of the dialog that is assumed to be the reason they were summoned]

On May27th, Nabil sharaf El Din also expressed his opinion live on ON TV in a different program about SCAF’s role in transition, and questioned the relationship between SCAF and Muslim Brotherhood, since the crack down on activists doesn’t actually include them.

It also should be mentioned that Mamdouh Shahine, a member in SCAF, called ON TV during their coverage of May 27th protests in Tahrir, [in the exact same episode that had Nabil Sharaf Eldin as a guest] objecting on using the word “mass” in describing the protests. He asked them to change it because he thought that they weren’t really “mass” protests and that they should “put the security of the country” in their consideration! The description was really changed after his call and it was written “protests” only at the bottom of the screen.

Nothing at all should surprise us in Egypt now, only four months since the revolution erupted.  After Egypt has been officially declared a military dictatorship in the constitutional declaration, we are experiencing every single aspect of it: MILITARY RULE.

Oppression continues, arrest of activists and journalists continues. 5 Activists were arrested for distributing flyers calling for the May 27th protests, then were released after the huge pressure put on SCAF. Nevertheless, thousands of civilians are still in military prisons.

This is not all. Live streaming was cut off a revolutionary expressing his opinions about military rule in one of the ” National debate” sessions.

A presenter in a government-owned TV channel was called to end his interview with Bothaina Kamel, activist and possible presidential candidate, for exposing SCAF violations. She was also summoned for interrogation at military prosecution.

Three journalists in Al Shourouk daily newspaper were also summoned and interrogated for publishing news about Mubarak planning to ask for amnesty from the Egyptian people in order to escape trial. The news the we all already knew about from different sources, the thing that many described as a ‘trail balloon’ to test public reaction which was actually extremely furious.

The serious thing about it is that the three journalists where asked to sign a pledge obligating themselves not to publish any news about ‘the army’ before getting back to SCAF, in order to ” forbid the confusion of the public opinion”.  Which basically means SCAF would control what news are published at all. What exactly the kind of news these days that don’t involves the army? Isn’t it the ruling entity?

Summoned journalists should refuse signing any pledges and continue even more to expose military violations. Oppression should stop NOW. This is NOT how it is supposed to be after a glorious revolution!! The military council should know very well that the era of silence has long gone. Egyptians won’t be enslaved again. A call for a protest has been already issued in solidarity with the three journalists.

Also, Yousri Fouda, journalist and a presenter at ON TV, wrote an amazing article, entitled ” No, Mr. General” with a strong tone criticizing Shahine for interfering in the media coverage of the channel.

All support and solidarity with freedom fighters and with all civilians imprisoned in military prisons. DOWN WITH MILITARY DICTATORSHIP!

Update: May 31

Reem Maged was notified before what was expected to be an interrogation that she will only be a witness, while Hossam Al Hamlawy and Nabil Sharaf didn’t receive the same notification.

On May31 morning, lawyers came out to protesters in solidarity with the summoned  journalists to say that it was an “informal chat”, and that there was no interrogation taking place!

The three weren’t offered any pledges to sign, and actually Hossam and Reem stated that if they were offered any, they wouldn’t have signed them. For more info about what had happened inside c28 that morning, please check Hossam’s tweets @3arabawy:

From what I understood Reem was coming in today as a “witness” while I was to be “questioned” about the accusations against Military Police.

And it was clear the generals were worried about the increasing public pressure on them

And I’m sure today’s protest, as well as the public campaign, are the only reasons I’m out today.

The visit to the military prosecutor became later a “chat” where they wanted “clarifications” for my accusations against General Badeen.

I had several human rights lawyers with me, including Rajia Omaran and Ahmad Ragheb, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Haitham Mohammadein, Tarek, Rami,..

And they were of great support. And I wanna thank those lawyers again

We made it clear to military prosecutors that already complaints were submitted b4 to public and military prosecutor, but nothing happened

And we also highlighted quickly some of the cases of the military crackdowns on protests, and the “thuggery” accusations

The day ended with the officers promising to look into those cases as well as whatever we’ll b presenting them in the coming days

And again, I’d like to stress that those cases we will b reporting have already been reported before, but no action was taken.

But in all cases, we’ll compile a file of the torture accusations and we’ll be handing it in the coming days.

But to make sure those cases are looked into, I strongly believe those cases should be highlighted by the media.

The army doesn’t respond that quickly as you all know, except with public pressure.

We were treated with respect inside. But Reem made it clear that just by summoning journalists it’s considered an act of intimidation.

Here is a link to posts tagged with army torture on Hossam’s blog: Arabawy.  It is very important to spread the word about army violations. I am personally gald we have such corageous activists who won’t accept any pressure to take back their words or let go their principles.

End torture in Egyptian prisons! End military trials of civilians!

DOWN WITH MILITARY DICTATORSHIP!