Army soldiers clashes with protesters at Abbasiya square near Egypt's Defence Ministry, in Cairo May 4, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
Several political movements and coalitions have called for a protest march on Sunday starting from Cairo’s High Court to the nearby parliament building to demand the release of political activists currently being tried by military prosecutors following recent clashes outside defence ministry headquarters. The march is also intended to protest the military's use of excessive force against protesters on Friday.
More than 300 people were arrested during Friday’s mass demonstration against Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) outside the defence ministry in Cairo’s Abbasiya district. While 15 female detainees have since been released, hundreds remain in military detention and face charges ranging from infringing on state institutions and violence against military personnel to halting traffic, illegal assembly and trespassing in restricted military areas.
Organisers of Sunday’s march are demanding that officials responsible for the Friday violence be held accountable and that political activists be released. Activists have long been calling for an end to the state’s practice of referring civilians to military prosecutors and for all civilians who have been sentenced by military courts in the past to be re-tried by civil courts.
An estimated 12,000 people have been subject to military prosecution and held in military prisons since the SCAF assumed executive power in February 2011 following Mubarak’s ouster.
Parliament had earlier discussed the possible amendment of Egypt’s military trials law and the cancellation of Article 6 of that law, which grants the president the authority to refer civilians to military tribunals. While parliament approved a draft amendment of the article on Sunday, the SCAF has yet to approve it.
Movements and parties calling for the Sunday march include the Popular Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, the Justice and Freedom youth movement, the National Front for Justice and Democracy, the Revolutionary Youth Coalition, the Our Rights Movement, the Lotus Revolution Coalition, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Revolutionary Youth Union, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party’s youth wing and the Egyptian Current Party.