The captives of Egypt's revolution

The captives of Egypt's revolution
The Egyptian judiciary is a tool of the regime and has been used to quash opposition and all forms of dissent. Pity its victims.
5 min read
13 Jan, 2015
Egyptian judges have made many questionable rulings [Anadolu]

As citizens, when we deal with authorities that have certain legal authority, the arbiter between the citizen and the authority is the law.

If a governing institution were to violate a citizen's rights, he or she would refer to the institution that is charged with upholding the law, the judiciary. It is supposed to protect citizens from the injustices of the executive branch or one of its institutions.

The judiciary, whose role it is to respect and uphold the law and ensure each citizen enjoys their rights, is obviously governed by the same law.

However, if the judiciary's role is to ignore citizens' rights, and go beyond that to ensure citizens' oppression, sidestepping every legal principle and their constitutional rights in favour of a particular ruler, minister or security agency - and to make this injustice look like robust legal procedures (though they could not convince a child of the legality of such actions) - then you know you are in Egypt.

Lip service

The loyalty of a judge to the regime is an important qualification for his appointment to the judiciary.

The head of the executive branch repeats the mantra of the judiciary's independence and talks up a storm, along with his supporters, about there not being any interference in the judiciary's work.

However, he personally appoints public prosecutors, administrative prosecutors, the State Lawsuit Authority, the Council of State, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the head of the Supreme Judicial Council, the head of the Court of Cassation and the heads of other judicial institutions and appeals judges.

The loyalty of all of these judges to the regime is an important qualification for all of these appointments.

Welcome to Egypt.

Some members of the judiciary work hard to exonerate criminals who have shot people, killed protesters, stolen public funds, or engaged in other forms of corrupt activities, and brag about not letting any considerations - except for God - interfere in their sentencing, announcing their piety and adherence to justice.

Meanwhile, a news channel airs a voice recording between two people close to the head of state, in which one confidently promises the other he will speak to some judges to bring false witnesses to help those accused of murder evade justice. Welcome to Egypt.

Egypt: Recording raises questions over legality of Morsi's detention. Read our report here.

The same channel airs a recording that proves the falsification of the place in which the deposed Mohamed Morsi is detained, a recording that involves an attorney general, a minister, an assistant minister, a minister's chief of staff and a commander in the armed forces.

Thereafter, the attorney general comes out to state that the recording was fabricated and he will personally oversee the investigation, despite being involved in the case himself - and then the investigation disappears without a trace. Welcome to Egypt.

Wretched luck

Dear reader, you have undoubtedly grown impatient with this long introduction. However, I wanted you to imagine the extent of the injustice that can affect the citizens whose wretched luck places them at the mercy of such officials.

These officials imprison people for no reason; perhaps for a badge a girl pins on her headscarf or a slogan on a sticker on a child's ruler, or a speech by a prisoner someone had in his pocket, or a t-shirt that a police officer did not like.

The only crime of dozens of youths in prison is that they dared dream of a better country.

People are being imprisoned for liking a Facebook page, sending a tweet, holding a gathering of friends in a coffee shop, or for a private conversation between two brothers on the subway.

People are being imprisoned for holding peaceful demonstrations calling for nothing more than bread, freedom and human dignity, or for killers to be held to account.

These people are arrested, and the guardians of the counter-revolution bring all manner of charges against them, even if they are innocent, or if the actions for which they were initially arrested are not crimes.

These citizens are still thrown in jail, denied of their basic rights and decent treatment, prevented from reading, harassed if they want to send a letter, harassed for receiving a letter and denied basic medical care.

They are made to share prison cells with criminals and murderers, even though they may be children, and completely powerless. There are dozens of these youths, and their only crime is that they dared dream of a better country.

They face the unknown and suffer torture, insults and sometimes even death - either directly or through neglect.

No one can grant them their constitutional and legal rights as citizens. They are not even taken to their specialist court hearings without a decision from an officer in the Interior Ministry, and this passes without comment or objection from the courts that imprisoned them.

Can we say these people were detained as a precaution because they are a threat to national security? No one can be detained as a precaution without legal grounds, which do not exist in these people's cases, and in the cases of hundreds of others.

Can we call them detainees? Even detainees have the right to appeal their detention and receive compensation for the unlawful restriction of their freedom.

So what are we to call them? I do not know of people who are treated so unjustly without being captives. What kind of captives? They are the captives of the revolution.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.