The April 6 Youth Movement is an Egyptian activist group that played a central role organizing the January 25, 2011 Revolution that led to the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak from Egypt after almost 30 years in power. Since its founding in 2008 by Nobel Peace Prize nominees Ahmed Maher and Israa Abdel Fattah, the April 6 Youth Movement has bravely opposed corruption and oppression in all forms in Egypt’s government. The movement continues to be a voice for accountability, transparency and secularism whether under SCAF, Mursi, or Sisi.
On November 24, 2013 the Egyptian government signed a new controversial protest law designed to effectively ban protest in Egypt; the law regulates public protests by criminalizing any demonstration larger than 10 people held without a permit. International Human Rights groups like Amnesty International have denounced the new law, saying it “gives security forces free rein.” The following day, November 25th, state security forces attacked a peaceful demonstration led by the respected human rights organization “No Military Trials” in front of the Shura Council; demonstrators were beaten and many were arrested.
In a move to intimidate dissent to this unpopular law the authorities looked to old faces to blame for the current state of civil unrest. Thus, despite the fact that neither had organized the “No Military Trials” protests (though both had been in attendance), arrest warrants were issued for two prominent liberal activists: Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6th Youth movement and a popular symbol of the January 25 Revolution, and Alaa Abd el-Fattah, a prolific blogger and political activist. Both are accused of breaking the new protest law and inciting a protest on November 25, even though the actual organizers of the event have publically stated that neither Maher nor Abd el-Fattah played an organizing role in those protests. In fact, six female organizers attempted to turn themselves in as the organizers of the Nov. 25th protest, but the prosecution refused to pursue any action against these women.
Maher and Abd el-Fattah have been persecuted by both the Mubarak government and that of recently-ousted President Mohammad Morsi.
Maher turned himself into the authorities at Abdeen Courthouse on Saturday November 30th— a move that sparked its own impromptu protest as approximately 100 supporters gathered to escort him. Released for a few hours, he was soon called back into police custody, this time ironically accused of inciting a protest when he turned himself in. The public prosecutor has further added to charges against Maher. Maher, along with activists Ahmed Doma and Mohammad Adel, is facing criminal charges for violating the new protest law on November 30th (the day Maher turned himself into authorities); they are formally charged with taking part in a protest without notifying the authorities, “disturbing public order,” “hampering traffic,” “destroying property” and assaulting police officers. The case is adjourned until Dec 22nd.
This is part of a wider crackdown on activists and political activism across Egypt under the guise of laws to promote public order. The Ministry of the Interior is hoping to make Abd el-Fattah, Maher, Douma and Adel examples, scapegoats and ultimately victims of a capricious legal system with little due process. The Public Prosecutor’s Office, which is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior, is not simply complicit, but rather actively seeking to quell dissent and political activism by going after high-profile secular activists.
The April 6 Youth Movement appeals to all human rights organizations to show solidarity by any means possible, including:
· Calling on the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges filed against Ahmed Maher, Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Doma, Alaa Abd el-Fattah and Ahmed Abdelrahman, as a result of their exercising their right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, and to release them immediately.
· Calling on the Egyptian authorities to treat detainees humanely, protect them from torture, and ensure they have access to due process, their legal representatives and their families.
· The Public Prosecutor may be contacted directly at:
Hesham Mohamed Zaki Barakat
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Supreme Court House, 1 “26 July” Road
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2 577 4716
Tel: +202 2 575 7165