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No to Military Trials, Yes to meeting with Egypt’s military rulers

‘We owe it to their families’ says a campaigner for No to Military Trials after the movement agreed to meet with Egypt’s ruling military council in its fight for the rights of citizens trapped in military trials

Dina Samak , Monday 13 Jun 2011
Soldiers open fire to disperse impending clashes between Muslims and Christians in front of Saint Mary church in Cairo May 8 (Photo: Reuters)
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Views: 4681

Representatives of the No to Military Trials campaign have been invited to meet with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) today, according to a press release issued by the campaign.

"We were surprised to receive such an invitation, as we have made our demands clear more than once," reads the statement. "We asked that investigations be conducted in to the violations committed by some army and military police personnel against civilians and there are other demands that we announced in many conferences and with many political forces. However, none of the demands were met nor have the violations ceased."

Mona Seif, one of the campaign organisers, told Ahram Online on her way to the meeting that the campaign also demands that military trials of civilians should cease within a week and that any peaceful civil action, including demonstrations and strikes, should be protected. "We can't understand how the Petro Jet company workers can be sent to a military trial because they organised a strike!" says Seif, baffled.

The demands also include the announcement of the numbers of all civilians who have faced military trials since 25 January and that all of them be tried before civil court judges instead.

"We are not going to negotiate around these demands, because we don't have the luxury to decide whether to negotiate in the first place," says Seif. "The families trust us with their children’s cases and we cannot accept anything except fair trials for all citizens, and, no, we don't think that military trials are anywhere near ‘fair.’"

The invitation to the meeting was passed to the campaign organisers through Mamdouh Hamza, the spokesman of the newly-founded National Council, after he held a long meeting with SCAF members last week. The No to Military Trials campaign is a member of the socialist coalition council.

"We don't know what the agenda of the meeting is: all we can do is hope that they are willing to fulfil these demands. We are going to take all the evidence we have to prove our point and to make our message clear."

The four activists who are to represent the No to Military Trials campaign include human rights activists and the prominent novelist Ahdaf Soueif.

"The decision to meet with SCAF was not easy, but this was not a decision that we made based only a political position," says Seif, “We need to do what it takes to get their children out of these military trials - we owe it to their families.”

The meeting is expected to take place today at noon, after which the members of the campaign will announce any outcome to the public.

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