The No to Military Trials group organised a screening in Tahrir Cinema (in Tahrir Square) on Tuesday 26 July of different accounts of family members who have undergone military trials.
The first video was of the human rights lawyer, Adel Ramadan, explaining the difference between military and civil trials.
“In military trials one does not have the right to appeal in [the court of] cassation,” Ramadan said and added that the lawyers appointed in these cases are from the military.
In military trials no eyewitnesses or forensic evidence is used to prove a case and the trials usually go very quickly, without applying the proper legislation.
The accounts of family members showed how unjust these trials are, as some got a sentence of up to fifteen years.
Many in Egypt are still not aware of that military trials exist. One man among the audience explained: “Many in different governorates do not know that these trials exist because of the media blackout on the issue.”
He asked the organisers to hold such screenings in different areas in Egypt to raise awareness about this issue.
Mona Seif, one of the organisers, replied precisely that is in their plans and that the last two accounts were from people from Rashid, a northern city in Egypt, who heard about the group and contacted them to speak out about their own cases.
The lawyer Ragia Omaran, who is a member of the No to Military Trials group and a volunteer in the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters, talked about the hardships that lawyers face just to attend the military trials.
Organisers mentioned that according to a report by Human Rights Watch, there are currently more than 10 thousand civilians held in military prisons, however, the numbers cannot be estimated, even by the lawyers.
“Even us as lawyers, did not know, at first, that these cases existed after Mubarak resigned,” said Omran.
On 25 February a number of protesters were taken into military prisons, including Amr El-Beheiry, who received a five-year-sentence. Similarly, on 9 March a large number of protesters were detained by state forces in a violent crackdown.
“At first we thought that the cases were related to protestors and activists only, but it turned out to be much wider than that,” Omran said.
Despite how grim the situation is with this vast amount of numbers, Mona Seif concluded that pressuring the government works, citing Mohamed Adel’s case as an example, who was held since 28 January and had been sentenced, but through pressure and insistence, was proven innocent and released a week ago.