Four members of the 6 April Youth Movement will remain in police detention for 15 days, as ordered Monday by Dokki prosecution authorities.
Following the arrest of four of its members Monday, the 6 April Youth Movement finds itself currently under severe security scrutiny.
Members Ayman Abdel Megeed and Mohamed Nabil were taken from their houses on Monday at dawn. Senior members of the movement’s political bureau Sherif El-Roubi and Mahmoud Hisham were arrested later that day.
The movement further stated that an additional two members are wanted by authorities. A statement by the group said the four members arrested on Monday will be questioned by prosecution authorities once more on 10 January.
They are accused of belonging to a “banned organisation”, in addition to protest charges which include calling for, inciting to, and participating in a protest in violation with the law. Lastly, they are accused of possessing fireworks. A misdemeanours case has therefore been established against the six group members.
According to Mohamed El-Baqer, the lawyer handling the case, 6 April Youth Movement is a “banned organisation” in the eyes of the law based on a verdict previously issued by the Court of Urgent Affairs.
“But depending on the political situation and what authorities want to do with the case, the defendants can be charged according to that court order or instead be accused according to other existing laws,” El-Baqer told Daily News Egypt Tuesday.
“Regarding the first accusation, the banned organisation was not specified in the police report. As for protesting, the report does not state how many people participated in the protest. Also, there were no physical proof of fireworks,” 6 April Youth said in a statement.
The prosecution was prompted by a rally that was organised on 21 December, in which protestors held banners with revolutionary slogans and fireworks. However, none of the 6 April Youth Movement was present at the rally.
“Nor did 6 April organise the event,” movement leading figure Hamdy Qeshta said. “The rally was held by independent citizens, with the possible participation of some of our members but individually and not representing the movement,” Qeshta told Daily News Egypt Tuesday.
A few hours before his own detention, El-Roubi posted on his Facebook account a short statement condemning the arrest of his colleagues. He described the current regime as “a failure”, often calling on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to “leave”.
“Arresting the young from their houses and detaining them. Governors with military background, it is indeed a civilian regime that knows how to include its youth,” El-Roubi wrote in sarcasm after Abdel Megeed and Nabil’s arrest.
El-Roubi had previously spoken to Daily News Egypt about being “constantly targeted” by the police whenever they saw him.
A controversial Protest Law issued in 2013 remains effective. Human rights defender and renowned lawyer Khaled Ali has challenged the law’s constitutionality before court but a decision is yet to be taken. The law bans the organisation of public assemblies without prior authorisation from security bodies.
In the months leading to the commemoration of the anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, security bodies are usually on high alert which results in a high number of arrested citizens.
“It has become obvious for everybody that the regime is trying to eliminate groups who are biased towards the people’s demands by revealing the corruption of a regime that is abusing the country’s resources in favour of businessmen, not the poor,” the movement said in a Monday statement.
Maintaining that the “revolution will continue”, the 6 April Youth Movement condemned the arrest of its members from their houses and demanded their release.
“We condemn the return of security visitors at dawn and we will not be silenced in the face of a fascist dictatorship killing hope and initiating terrorism,” the group announced.
Despite being highly effective during the popular uprisings that led to the 25 January Revolution, toppling former president Hosni Mubarak, the 6 April Youth Movement has suffered under the current security crackdown and hostile media campaigns over the past four years.
“It has become undeniable that the counter-revolution achieved victory,” Qeshta said. “This was because we were content with the removal of Mubarak and shifted away from the main demands of the revolution.”
The four basic demands of the 25 January Revolution in 2011 revolution were bread, freedom, human dignity, and social justice. “When we forgot those demands, we lost some of our popularity in the streets. Add to that all media attempts to distort the group’s image,” Qeshta said.
However, he said what still gives revolutionary groups such as the 6 April Movement or other independent revolutionaries hope is the regime’s approach. “Those arrests that they make push us to think that they must be afraid of us, despite our little influence on people currently. That makes us more determined to carry on this revolution” he said.
At a time where many people fear instability and reject any calls for protests, the 6 April Youth Movement continues to pay the price for opposing the current regime. According to Qeshta, there are now more than 100 group members in prison.
The group is yet to decide whether it will organise demonstrations on the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution. Qeshta confirmed that there is no coordination with other groups on that day, even if there are internal discussions within the movement.