UPDATE Alaa in prison

alaa

Now it is already one week. And still it seems rather an idea from a bad movie than reality: Alaa Abd El-Fattah Seif, one of the most famous, most active bloggers and activist, is in prison, Thursday his appeal was rejected (Al-Masry Al-Youm, Globalvoices, german in the taz). The military detained him last Sunday, the 30th of october, after he refused to be interrogated by the military prosecution who had summoned him that day for his reports about the Black Sunday, or the „Maspiro massacre“ 9th of october (if this was the reason for his detention or it would have been happened anyway can be questioned).
Whatever the reason was: The ruling military council SCAF seems to feel secure enough to attack now openly the now smaller, but still very active scene of activists, even the ones from middle- and upperclass families, well educated, with good connections to press and activists in other countries, exactly the ones who could feel quite secure as long as the repressive use of military trials was used almost only against the poor. The accusations against Alaa of stealing weapons and inciting violent unrest seem so constructed that comments like the open letter one of his mother still range between disbelief and horror. He is detained for 15 days, pending investigation, the period can be renewed unlimited.

Alaa was already arrested for 45 days in 2006, in 2008 he emigrated with Manal, his wife and famous blogger as well, to South-Africa. The couple came back when the Revolution started in January 2011, Manal is about to get her first child. „I just found a box of letters Alaa wrote me from the prison 2006″, she wrote in her blogs a few days ago. „Now I‘m sitting and writing letters again.“ She was not the only one feeling that bad times are back: The campaign #freealaa was relaunched, supporters created webpages, icons with Alaas pictures, his parents and his sister Mona Seif, a prominent member of the group No for military trials have started a broad campaign calling for his release. Without any success so far.

Alaa himself has started blogging from prison – and his letters give a far more realistic insight of the military prison, its social structure and the myth of being a „brave political prisoner“ than the heroic calls from outside. Answering an article about his „manliness“, Alaa describes how he left the ones arrested (and badly tortured) at Maspero because of the bad toilets:

    So yes, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t “man up” and bear it, even though I knew only too well that thousands were bravely and stoically enduring far worse conditions, even though I never had to suffer the untold horrors of military prisons, nor was I ever subjected to the torture meted out to those comrades of mine who had been sent down to the military courts.

    And so, I let my Maspero protest comrades, my fellow prisoners facing the wrath of the ministry of defence, as well as other political detainees, down. I let down all those prisoners who had been moved, upon seeing the mayhem and fracas that my presence had been causing, to come and speak to me, sharing their tales of the horrors endured at the hands of the interior ministry, all so that I could tell the outside world about it. They were overjoyed that someone was going to speak up about the baltagia and the gangs.

    Yet, I left them behind, because of dirty toilets. (read the full letter here)

For Saturday 12th of november egyptian activists call for worldwide solidarity and support to free Alaa and around 12 000 other prisoners sentenced through military trials in Egypt since February.

Update I (nov 8 ):
Alaa’s mother, Laila Seif, professor for mathematic and well-known human rights activist, started a hunger-strike on Monday to free him (her statement and other interesting articles by her and other members and supporters of the family on the website of the No military trials for civilians group.

Update II (nov 9):
A small protest against Alaas detention infront of Tora prison today was attacked and dispersed by locals, maybe also paid thugs, claiming that the protesters were foreign agents.

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