24 Nubian activists detained for illegal protest in Egypt's Aswan

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Tuesday 5 Sep 2017

Twenty-four Nubian activists are in detention in Aswan for illegal protesting after they were arrested on Sunday for participating in a march in Aswan city, where they held signs and played drums to call for a return to their ancestral lands, their lawyer Mustafa El-Hassan told Ahram Online on Tuesday.

On Monday, the prosecution ordered that the suspects be detained for four days pending investigation into "inciting protest, unauthorised protest, and disrupting public security,” according to El-Hassan.

The lawyer -- who works at the Hisham Mubarak human rights law center -- added that this is the first confrontation between security forces and Nubian activists since a sit-in last year.

In November 2016, a group of Nubian activists blocked the Abu-Simbel-Aswan highway for four days to protest the government's decision to sell 10,000 feddans of land in Toshka and Forkund to non-Nubians as part of its "New Valley Project" for economic development in the south.

Sunday's march was dispersed at the entrance to Aswan city, where the Nubian activists planned to march to a park in front of the governorate headquarters in the city center.

El-Hassan said that the activists demanded the implementation of Article 263 of the Egyptian constitution.

Article 236 says "the state should work on drafting and implementing projects that return the residents of Nubia to their original areas, and develop it within 10 years in accordance with the law."

Nubian activists have repeatedly called for amending Presidential decree 444 of 2014 -- which designated areas along Egypt's southern border as military areas -- so they can return to their historic villages.

In 2014, a draft law to develop Nubian communities and resettle those displaced by the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s was prepared by the cabinet of then-prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, but has not been submitted to parliament.

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