Rights groups denounce arbitrary arrests in Egypt

June 12, 2015 12:39 pm
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An Egyptian riot policeman detains a female student of al-Azhar University during a protest by students who support the Muslim Brotherhood inside their campus in Cairo on December 30, 2013/AFP
An Egyptian riot policeman detains a female student of al Azhar University during a protest by students who support the Muslim Brotherhood inside their campus in Cairo on December 30, 2013/AFP

, CAIRO, June 12- Masked policemen raided Hassan Sultan’s apartment at dawn last month and whisked his three sons to an unknown location, before charging them with membership of a “terrorist” group.

The siblings are among dozens of youth activists who have been arbitrarily arrested in the past two weeks as authorities press a crackdown on opposition, human rights groups say.

Egypt launched the crackdown, targeting all forms of dissent, after then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al Sisi overthrew his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was declared a “terrorist” organisation, and hundreds of people were killed.

More than 40,000 people have been detained, according to Human Rights Watch, with hundreds sentenced to death in speedy mass trials.

On May 26, the policemen wearing uniforms from special forces units stormed the Sultan home in search of his three sons, students of the prestigious Al Azhar Sunni Muslim seat of learning.

“It happened early in the morning. They blindfolded me and my sons, tied us from behind and made us sit on the floor like prisoners of war,” Sultan told AFP.

“We haven’t seen them since their arrest, but rights lawyers say they were charged with belonging to a terrorist group and that they are being held in a Cairo police station.”

Sultan denies his sons were affiliated with the Brotherhood.

Freedom for the Brave, a group of human rights lawyers who track political detainees and provide them with legal assistance, has documented the disappearance of 163 people since April.

Some of them were eventually traced, mostly in detention, but the fate of 66 is still unknown.

And in the past 10 days alone, 23 activists have gone missing, said, prominent activist Mona Seif.

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