An all-women’s protest was organised Sunday evening in front of the Itihadiya Palace in solidarity with all political detainees and those detained due to the controversial Protest Law.
Protesters, who were also calling for the detainee’s release, were holding Ramadan lanterns and pictures of detainees, as well as prisoners and kidnapped youth in front of the palace.
The protest was held on the first anniversary of the arrest and detention of 23 protesters in front of the Itihadiya Palace, including human rights lawyer Yara Sallam and human rights defender Sanaa Seif.
Security forces had arrested Sallam and 22 others on 21 June 2014 as they were demonstrating against the controversial Protest Law near the Presidential Palace.
On 26 October 2014, a Cairo Misdemeanour Court gave them a three-year prison sentence and a fine of EGP 100,000 each, as well as three-years of police probation after their release. An appeals court later revised the sentence to two years. A challenge to the verdict is currently pending before the Cassation Court.
The controversial protest law, Law 107/2013, was issued by interim president Adly Mansour. Since its enactment, the law has been heavily criticised by human rights groups for violating the constitutional right to freedom of assembly and expression.
The law’s constitutionality was contested in front of the Supreme Court earlier this year, after a lawsuit was filed by prominent lawyers Khaled Ali and Tarek Al-Awady. In June, eight political parties filed a petition to the Supreme Court requesting the expediting of the revision of the Protest Law.
“Hundreds of young people are in prison for peacefully expressing their opinions. This law was presented before the SCC on 13 September 2014. Since it is a major public opinion concern, we demand the court to schedule a hearing as soon as possible. The fate of hundreds of young men and women depend on the decision,” the petition stated.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree Wednesday pardoning 165 people sentenced in cases related to breaching the Protest Law and other misdemeanours. Most of the names on the list the presidency released were students and minors who were sentenced and convicted for illegal protesting, possessing weapons, or belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. However, the pardoned did not include imprisoned women, high profile activists or journalists.
Reporting by Nourhan Fahmy
Photos by Amany Kamal