CAIRO: Demonstrations and protests in Egypt often bring arrests and detentions to the demonstrators. From there they are sent to prisons and detention centers across the nation for 15 days before seeing a court. For many, the idea of going to demonstrate is a difficult concept to accept, knowing that it could be you picked up and sent off to jail.
Inside Tora prison there are now activists being held, now on their second 15-day period. The numbers seem to grow as each protest ends in violence and arrests. Yet, this has not stopped the group of activists from remaining optimistic and forward looking.
According to one Egyptian blogger who had recently gotten into Tora in order to see the friends of the opposition, “they were all doing much better and have stopped their hunger strike as conditions improved and they were no longer under duress of beatings and not receiving their food.
The detainees at Tora had gone on a hunger strike in protest of the horrific conditions that they were having to endure, including lack of food, being in the same cells as common criminals and, in one case, not receiving insulin at the required times.
In Tora, the activists have access to food, clothing and even newspapers, which allows them to keep up to date on the daily happenings in the country.
Some of them have made necklaces out of threads that read “Kefaya, freedom, etc. said the blogger, who prefers to remain anonymous.
“Their spirits remain high and they are doing fine.
With May 25 set as the day for a massive sit-in across the country, they hope to be able to get out and help in the cause that has made Egypt a dynamic nation for a strong opposition. According to the blogger, they look forward to supporting the judges in their call for independence.
“They know that the judges are the most important symbol of the opposition now and are looking forward to showing their solidarity in a more public forum, another blogger tells The Daily Star Egypt.
Activists turned out in large numbers on Thursday in support of Hesham Al-Bastawisy and Mahmoud Mekki, whose hearing had been scheduled.
Although violence and arrests marred the demonstrations meaning, Al-Bastawisy commented the day before going into court on the importance of the judiciary for reforming Egypt.
“We are [trying to] teach everyone that reform begins with the judiciary, Al-Bastawisy argued. “I am doing this for the children and the future of Egypt . we have to remain strong.
He said that real democracy in Egypt will come and there will be a real respect for human rights in this country, but that it is difficult to galvanize the majority of the people due to the power hold of the Egyptian government.
“After 15 years of dictatorship, it is not easy for people to go on the streets, Al-Bastawisy continued. He said that the people fear being arrested and don’t see any change coming.
“It is our country, not theirs [the ruling government], he said. “We have to get the word out that the government doesn’t want real reform . they say they want reform but we know that they are simply lying to the people.
Al-Bastawisy and Mekki are due back in court May 18, after the prosecution had asked for the hearing to be postponed until next week.
More demonstrations will be expected as the judges continue to see courtroom after courtroom as they search for a more independent judiciary.