Activists start hunger strike in solidarity with Abbasiya detainees

Ahram Online, Saturday 19 May 2012

Activists push for an end to the military trials of civilians, threatening a hunger strike in solidarity with detainees from recent Abbasiya clashes

no to mil trials
Archive photo of Egyptian activists with stickers that read: "No to military trials for civilians". (Photo:AP)

Several political groups have called for a day of hunger strike under the banner "We are all prisoners under military rule," to take place at the Journalists' Syndicate Sunday.

Starting 12pm, several journalists will be starting a hunger strike, welcoming any person joining in solidarity. At 4pm there will be a symbolic protest in front of the syndicate and at 7pm a press conference held to clarify the demands of the day of protest.

The call for the Sunday protest came in response to a statement released by several still in military detention, held since the 4 May clashes that erupted at the Ministry of Defence, declaring they would start a hunger strike 20 May until they are referred to civil courts.

More than 300 were arrested during clashes between the military and protesters in the Abbasiya district of Cairo, following mass demonstrations against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) at the Ministry of Defence. Several have been released while 89 remain in custody.

Those arrested during the clashes face several charges, including infringing upon state institutions, using violence against members of the armed forces, halting traffic, illegal gathering and having breached a military area.

The military has repeatedly claimed that the arrests came only after attempts to break into the Ministry of Defence. Activists, on the other hand, condemned the use of excessive force by the military police in dispersing demonstrators and condemn referring civilians to military courts.

Activists have long been campaigning for an end to the military trials of civilians, demanding that all those facing military prosecution are referred to civil courts. Estimates are that more than 12,000 civilians have faced military prosecution since SCAF took over power in February 2011 following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.

In the statement calling for the Sunday "Day of Hunger Strike," the undersigned groups also condemned the way recent detainees have been treated, alleging they were tortured and were not allowed the food and medical aid sent in by their families.

The undersigned groups include the Justice and Freedom Youth Movement, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Popular Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, the Revolution Youth Coalition, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces, the Second Revolution of Rage, the Egyptian Current Party, the Free Islamist Current, the Free Islamist Alliance, the General Islamist Current, the Salafist Front, the We are all Detainees Movement, the No to Military Trials Campaign, the National Association for Change, Our Right movement, the Egyptian Feminist Alliance, the Revolution Continues Alliance and others.

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