Hundreds march in solidarity with detained blogger Maikel Nabil

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Friday 30 Dec 2011

Hundreds of protesters march in Downtown in support of the first “opinion prisoner” in post-revolution Egypt; campaign against army use of violence

A circulated photo of Maikel Nabil in Tahrir Square on 30 January. Sign reads "we refuse that the army steals the people's revolution. (Photo:internet)

Hundreds of Egyptian protesters marched from Tahrir Square to the headquarters of the High Court in Downtown, in expression of solidarity with detained blogger Maikel Nabil who was sentenced to two years in prison for a blog post criticising the ruling military council.

The march, scheduled for 6pm Thursday evening, took off from Tahrir Square and headed to the headquarters of the High Judicial Court in Downtown Cairo. Protesters called for the release of Nabil and to an end of military trials for civilians, chanting against the military in the process.

Nabil was arrested by military forces in March upon writing a blog post named “the army and the people were never one hand”, blowing the whistle on the dangers of military rule on the revolution. Nabil then received a three-year sentence by a military court in April over charges of insulting the armed forces and his family appealed the sentence as the case drew widespread local and international interest.

He has been on a hunger strike for over 120 days, in protest at his imprisonment for expressing his opinion and his trial as a civilian before a military court.

Nabil’s trial was postponed five times before a final verdict on 14 December sentenced him to two instead of three years, with no possibility of another appeal.

“Maikel is dying because he spoke the truth,” rights lawyer Amir Salem said during the solidarity protest, referring to Nabil’s deteriorated health condition as a result of his hunger strike.

One of the signs held at the protest was an enlarged photo of Nabil posing in front of a military tank in Tahrir on 30 January –during the 18-day uprising against Mubarak- while holding a sign that says “we refuse that the army steals Egypt’s revolution”, at a moment when the dispatching of army into the streets was perceived by the revolutionaries as a sign of victory over the ousted dictator.

A group of protesters also screened projected footage of the army’s violence against protesters on the external walls of the High Court building.

About two weeks ago, Nabil wrote a letter from prison entitled “One Citizen,” posted on the No to Military Trials Campaign website Wednesday evening.

In the letter, Nabil slammed the military council and the mentality through which it runs the country. “The Military in their stupidity think that One Citizen is without value and easily marginalised,” Nabil wrote. “Their minds do not comprehend the fact that One Citizen put an end to Mubarak's regime, one citizen: Khaled Said.”

Nabil’s case spurred international reactions. On 29 December, a statement of appeal coordinated by the UN Watch organisation, signed by representatives of 30 human rights groups, was sent to top UN officials and Egyptian government, condemning the detention of Nabil by military authorities and calling for his release.

Currently more than 12,000 Egyptians, according to estimates from the coordinators of the No to Military Trials for Civilians campaign, are currently incarcerated upon military trials.

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