Egypt court releases 24 Nubian activists pending trial in 'Drum March' case
Ahram Online, , Wednesday 15 Nov 2017

Egypt's State Security Misdemeanour Court ordered on Wednesday the release pending trial of all defendants accused of illegal protest in Upper Egypt's Aswan in what is commonly known as the “Drum March” case.

The 24 Nubian activists were arrested during a march in Aswan city last September and charged with illegal protesting, chanting anti-government slogans, and blocking a public road.

The trial is set to start on 12 December.

The activists were calling for their historic right to return to their ancestral lands on the banks of Lake Nasser, as well as compensation for the loss of their land caused by the filling of the reservoir for the Aswan Dam in the early 1900s.

Earlier this month, Gamal Sorour, a Nubian activist who participated in the march, died of a heart attack while in detention.

The largest wave of Nubian displacement occurred between 1960 and 1963, when Egypt began building the High Dam under then-President Gamal Abdel-Nasser.

Completed in 1970, the High Dam is considered one of the largest and most significant projects in Egypt's contemporary history, controlling the annual flooding of the Nile and increasing water for irrigation and the generation of hydroelectricity.

In 1902, many Nubians were forced to leave their ancestral homelands south of Aswan in Upper Egypt to allow for the filling of the reservoir for the older Aswan Dam.

Article 236 of Egypt's 2014 constitution stipulates that the state must work on “developing and implementing projects to bring back the residents of Nubia to their original areas and develop them within 10 years in the manner organised by law.”

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