After contacting the president and his advisors, people trying to free the 8 April Officers are taking their fight to the international arena.
Calls were made by a group on Facebook, Third Rage Revolution for the Release of Egypt, to send a message to five other Facebook pages – the United Nations Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International USA, Barack Obama’s official Page and UNICEF USA—informing them about the 8 April Officers who’ve all faced trials for publicly supporting the 2011 Revolution.
The same group, which has been raising awareness about the 8 April Officers, also called on people to send faxes to the official spokesperson of President Mohamed Morsy, Yaser Ali and the president himself, asking when the remaining 8 April Officers will be released.
Nisrine Yousef, who has advocated for the officers and is the administrator of the Supporters of the 8 April Officers Facebook page, said that this is not the first time that supporters of the officers have contacted international groups. “We contacted them almost every month,” Yousef said. “But this is the first time to do it under Morsy’s rule.”
The Supporters of the 8 April Officers has attempted to free all the officers by holding protests, passing out brochures and leaflets and trying to gather a million signatures calling for their release.
Yousef is not sure whether this will have an impact or not, “I don’t know but you have to try all the options,” she said.
First telegraphs were sent to Morsy, then messages were posted on his official Facebook page and faxes were sent to Ali. Yousef is uncertain about when the officers will be released, despite officials claiming that they will be released.
In Dakahliya, a handful of activists started a hunger strike and sit-in last week demanding the release of the remaining officers behind bars. It followed a hunger strike by one of the mothers of the officers. Yousef says that she and a handful of other activists are planning a protest in front of the Press Syndicate on Friday, and that they are planning to hold a sit-in as well. Recently, many of the planned protests for the 8 April Officers were cancelled or had a very low turnout.
While Morsy has issued a law which will secure amnesty and release for anyone arrested for supporting the revolution, Mohamed Al-Rayes, a lawyer representing the officers said that the law doesn’t include those who violated martial law. “They either missed it on purpose or they just missed it…. But [Morsy’s] law doesn’t include the officers,” he said. Al-Rayes said that if we assume bad intentions, the law doesn’t include the officers in order to avoid clashes with the military but he thinks that it was probably missed unintentionally.
A list the people affected by the amnesty will be produced within weeks. Al-Rayes says that it will not include the names of the officers but that they could highlight the first charge of going to Tahrir Square. All other charges were based on the first, which means that they were arrested for supporting the revolution. Supporting the revolution is the only condition which has to be met in order to qualify for the amnesty.
The 8 April Officers are a group of 29 military officers who were arrested after participating in protests in support of the revolution. While they are collectively referred to as the 8 April Officers, not all of them took part in protests on 8 April, only 22 of them did. The rest were arrested later on after joining protests in May and November, 2011.
Most of the officers were released after being sent to psychological rehabilitation and a committee will decide if they can return to their military posts or be moved to administrative work.
Of the 22 arrested on 8 April, all were released except for Mohamed Wadi’, they have not been returned to their ranks yet. In addition, three of them were retired and fiv, including Wadi’, remain behind bars. Wadi’s mother sent a telegraph to the president this week and Wadi’ was moved back to prison after spending a month in the psychological department of a hospital.