AFTE outlines ongoing security violations as journalist critically wounded during clashes

Ali Omar
8 Min Read

The Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) released a statement Sunday condemning police incursions onto university campuses nationwide as well as the death of a student from wounds suffered during a protest dispersal.

The statement, which is part of a regular series of statements from AFTE regarding security on university campuses, details and separates violations by security forces, university administration and Students Against the Coup.

The statement opens with mention of Sharief Atef, student at the Faculty of Science at the University of Alexandria who died on 6 April, “after suffering eighteen days in intensive care”. Atef was shot in the back by security forces during a protest dispersal on 19 March.

According to AFTE, Atef is the 13th student to die during the 2013/2014 school year.

First mentioned are violations by security forces, which outnumber violations by university administrations and Students Against the Coup. According to the statement, Al-Azhar, Menufiya, Cairo, Zagazig, Ain Shams and Aswan universities saw violations by security forces.

Al-Azhar, a perennial flashpoint for pro-Morsi resistance, was stormed by security forces on 8 and 9 April, with both the men and women’s sides seeing police incursions. On 8 April, police stormed the women’s side of the university, firing tear gas and birdshot at retreating students. AFTE notes that 20 students were injured by birdshot.

On 9 April, security forces again stormed both the men and women’s side of the university after demonstrations were held against abuses by security forces and the university administration. Tear gas was fired in both instances, although birdshot was only used on the men’s campus. Injuries, however, were reported on both campuses.

At Menufiya University, Students Against the Coup organised demonstrations on 8 April to “condemn the campaign of arrests carried out by the security forces”. Two days later, Professor Osama Al-Obeid was arrested from the university hospital. The statement does not give reasons for his arrest.

The Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University was stormed on 9 April by police forces and “unidentified civilians”, who arrested demonstrating members of Students Against the Coup. Six students were arrested and imprisoned for six days pending investigations.

Amar Bakri, a third year student in the Faculty of Science at Zagazig University was arrested on 5 April after leaving campus. His detention was ordered for 15 days pending investigations. No reason was given for his arrest.

Police forces stormed Ain Shams University in response to clashes between students and administrative security on 9 April, a day after a dozen homemade bombs were found on the campus. The police incursion featured “heavy” amounts of tear gas and birdshot, resulting in “numerous injuries” to students’ eyes and chest.

Two students were arrested while attempting to leave campus after the clashes. It is unclear whether or not they were involved in the clashes.

Aswan University saw fallout from ongoing clashes between two tribes on 5 April. Police forces launched tear gas into the campus to disperse students. The statement notes the “occurrence of many cases of fainting among students”, who were transported to the university hospital.

Administrative security “attacks” took place at both Ain Shams and Alexandria universities.

Ain Shams witnessed clashes between Students Against the Coup members and administrative security backed by students who support presidential hopeful Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. According to the report, students fired fireworks at each other during the clashes.

Alexandria University featured a protest in support of detained students on 10 April after which students were allegedly accused of trying to destroy the office of the university dean. Mostafa El-Sayed was released shortly after his arrest.

Administrative violations took place at Al-Azhar and Menufiya universities, according to AFTE. A majority of the violations are due to university administrations’ expulsion of students allegedly linked to ongoing protests.

Al-Azhar President Dr Osama Al-Abd expelled 27 students on 2 April “without specifying the reasons for [his] decision”. The expulsions prompted further protests at the university. On 8 April, a further eight students were referred to college disciplinary boards.

The Department of Legal Affairs at Menufiya University suspended two students for a month after receiving a memorandum from the university dean. The statement alleges that the two students were interrogated in December 2013, but action was only taken on 10 April.

Students Against the Coup is listed as committing one violation, which took place on 9 April at the Ain Shams University Faculty of Commerce. According to the report, members of Students Against the Coup stormed a faculty building during lectures and chanted against the police and army. Clashes broke out between students which led administrative security to ask for police assistance.

Numerous injuries were reported in the aftermath.

Also mentioned in the report were the 12 homemade bombs found on Ain Shams University’s campus on 8 April.

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.

A Students Against the Coup march at Cairo University was dispersed Monday with tear gas, birdshot and live ammunition. Maria, a coordinator for the female wing of SAC at Cairo University who preferred not to disclose her last name, said that there were numerous injuries from live ammunition as well as one fatality.

Maria claims the fatality was a journalist from the private Youm7 newspaper. However, Al-Ahram reported that the journalist, Khaled Hussein, is in critical condition in Qasr El-Einy Hospital, while a student at the university was reportedly killed.

His death would be the 14th during the 2013/2014 school year.

According to photojournalist Amru Salahuddien, CSF used live ammunition and targeted journalists. “I have a nice hole in my backpack and I saw a couple of students severely injured,” said Salahuddien.

When reached for comment, the Ministry of Interior denied the use of live ammunition. The ministry also refused to comment on fatalities, saying that a statement will be issued at the end of the day. On 8 April, Ministry of Interior Spokesman General Hany Abdel Latif said: “There will be no protests on university campuses, universities will only be for education.” He added that any protests inside universities will be dealt with, once the university chairman allows forces inside.

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