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New AFTE report details ongoing security abuses in Egyptian universities

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Weekly round-up outlines security attacks, administrative violations

 Egyptian army and riot police stand guard outside Cairo University in the capital Cairo on April 23, 2014.( AFP Photo)

Egyptian army and riot police stand guard outside Cairo University in the capital Cairo on April 23, 2014.( AFP Photo)

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression released its latest roundup of attacks and violations in Egyptian universities on Saturday.

Most of the violations, as with weeks past, have centred around Al-Azhar University, a bastion of pro-Morsi resistance during the 2013-2014 scholastic year.

AFTE’s latest report details three police incursions onto Al-Azhar campuses. On 22 April, police stormed campus after a Students Against the Coup (SAC) protest, firing tear gas and birdshot at the demonstrating students. Security forces arrested a number of students, chasing them both on and off campus. AFTE noted “dozens of injuries” from the tear gas and birdshot fired by police.

On 23 April, security forces again fired tear gas and birdshot at students protesting on the men’s campus of Al-Azhar. Police again chased and arrested students on and off campus. AFTE noted birdshot injuries to students’ eyes and faces.

Students at Al-Azhar said the 23 April clashes were among the most violent so far. A member of the Al-Azhar University Youth Movement said security forces assaulted people inside faculty buildings and classes, at times firing birdshot.

Police forces stormed the Assiut branch of Al-Azhar on 23 April as well, where they fired tear gas and birdshot at protesting students, resulting in many injuries. Police randomly arrested students near the clashes, according to the statement.

23 April also saw clashes at Minya University after police tried to disperse a SAC protest. There, police used tear gas and birdshot to break up the protesting students after members of a march torched an armoured police vehicle.

Many students were injured in the resulting clashes.

On 24 April, security forces fired tear gas at a SAC march in the Alexandria University Faculty of Engineering. Dozens of students, who were protesting for the release of detained colleagues, were injured.

Unidentified assailants attacked a SAC march on 22 April at Zagazig University with fireworks, knives and sticks, according to the report. Five students were wounded in the attack that took place at the university’s Faculty of Engineering.

The only administrative violations detailed in Saturday’s release took place at Menufiya University. A student from the university was denied the ability to compete in a wrestling tournament because he flashed the four-finger Rabaa sign in a photograph with teammates.

On 20 April, a misdemeanour court sentenced in absentia 17 students who took part in protests at Menufiya University. Among the students sentenced to a 50-month term was the head of the Federation of Engineering Students, Bandar Shebin El-Koum.

El-Koum was sentenced to a 54-month prison term and fined EGP 50,000.

Student activists estimate 673 Al-Azhar students are currently detained, and 13 students have been killed this academic year across Egypt.

Students Against the Coup, a group founded shortly after the 3-July ouster of Mohamed Morsi, has become the driving force behind protests on Egyptian campuses this academic year. Protests have grown and gained force since Morsi’s ouster, as an estimated 16-22,000 have been arrested.

Students aligned with SAC often hold marches in solidarity with their detained colleagues.

AFTE compiles its evidence in the form of first hand testimony from a network of students at 17 public universities in Egypt. According to AFTE, most security violations occur at public universities.


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