International solidarity for political prisoners in Egypt

Drop all the death sentences and stop all executions!
Release all political prisoners and guarantee freedom of protest and press!
Fair trial for all the prisoners and stop police torture!

2011 Egypt revolution encouraged struggle throughout the world. It gave the message “If Egyptians can bring down the tyranny, we can also fight and win against our boss and rulers” to Korean workers and people.
4 years have passed and now workers and people of Egypt are suffering under military government which is led by the former general Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. On July, 2013 El-Sisi brought down the president Mohamed Morsi and killed more than 3 thousand people who opposed his coup. On behalf of ruling class who want brutal counter-revolution, El-Sisi became president of Egypt in the following year.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death under El-Sisi’s military regime and about 90 Egyptian citizens were tortured to death in police stations. More than 40,000 were arrested within a year and many of them were arrested under the draconian anti-protest law. Dozens of journalist also have been jailed because of their writing or their work. This truly violates most basic democratic rights of freedom of protest and freedom of press.
Many of the prisoners are also deprived of fair trial. The trial merely acts as a cover for repression and many lacked even the most basic elements of trial. For instance, when the court passed death sentence against over a hundred people along with the former president Morsi on 16 May, it even included the two people who were already dead and one who had been in jail or the past 19 years.
El-Sisi’s military regime suppresses not only the Mslim Brotherhood members and its supporters but also revolutionaries who fought against Morsi government for the revolutionary cause. Indeed, Mahienour el-Masry, who is a member of Revolutionary Socialists (RS) and the winner of “Ludovic-Trarieux” Human Rights Prize in 2014, has led movement against Mubarak and Morsi governments. El-Sisi’s military regime has already arrested her twice and both time they found her acting against the police brutality problematic. Unless we stop political repression of the regime as a whole, such release may only be temporary for the brutal regime can always jail anyone they want.
Despite such acts of political vengeance and violation of basic democratic rights, the leaders of world countries are not showing any sincere reaction against it. The United States occasionally talks about human rights and democracy but Egypt is not only exception to them but US is even providing arms and money to Egypt regime. President of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, also recently wrote a letter of amity to El-Sisi saying that she hopes “to increase mutual understanding based on the sound trust between the two nations”. Surely all of them are hypocrites.
Political prisoners, their families and local activists have called for solidarity voice over the world to raise concern about the political repression. We Korean activists are here today to respond to their call and make our voice heard.
We are in solidarity with the political prisoners of Eygpt who are being oppressed for their political faith and conscience. Moreover, we will do everything possible to support the workers and people in Egypt to rise against the military regime and push the history forward.

19 June, 2015
Antiwar Peace Solidarity Korea, Citizens’ Solidarity of Human Rights, Imagination for International Solidarity, International Solidarity Committee of ‘MINBYUN – Lawyers for a Democratic Society’, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, Korea Federation Medical Activists Groups for Health Rights (Association of Korea Doctors for Health Rights, Association of Physicians for Humanism, Dentists’ Association for Healthy Society, Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society, Solidarity for Worker’s Health), Korean House for International Solidarity, Labor Party, Nanum Munhwa, National Union of Mediaworkers, Palestine Peace and Solidarity, People’s Solidarity for Social Progress, Workers’ Solidarity, Youth Left.


Palestine: the view from Korea (July 8, 2013)

All eyes on Egypt
Democracy is best understood as a process. The transition from military rule must be seen as part of this process and therefore those in power must evolve to meet the newly buoyed aspirations of the people. One need only turn to Egypt to see that this is not easily achieved.
Following a mass mobilization of protestors calling for democratically-elected President Morsi to step down which was larger than that which toppled Mubarak in 2011, the military carried out a coup to remove him from power. The streets are now filled with both Morsi supporters as well as those who had been calling for him to step down, and it appears that further blood is likely to be shed on both sides. While a majority of the population no longer trusted Morsi, certainly it would be very dangerous to put any trust in the military. One can only hope that the people will find reason to unite to finally destroy the military’s grip on power and remove with it all of the vestiges of decades of military rule.

Carlos Latuff, 2013. Military Coup in Egypt.
Carlos Latuff, 2013. Military Coup in Egypt.

For an excellent summary of the powers at play on the streets and behind the scenes in Egypt, it is worth watching these interviews with Gilbert Achcar.

Whether Morsi’s removal was an inevitable outcome or not, the current purge of the Muslim Brotherhood is a very dangerous sign. Egypt’s revolution is far from over but as of yet there are no clear signs which direction it will end up taking. The immediate future is looking ominous but revolutions are by nature dynamic and turbulent things. What is clear is that it will inevitably be a long and difficult process that will ultimately be determined in the streets.
What significance does this all have for Palestine? Aside from the fact that all eyes are on Egypt as an important source of hope for democratic change in the region, Morsi’s ousting may indeed lead to a strengthening of relations between Israel and Egypt. In the wake of the removal of Morsi the Egyptian military had already closed the Rafah crossing into Gaza and has begun destroying the many tunnels which act as a lifeline for much of the population under the ongoing Israeli military siege.

July 4, Al-Quds. Tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are destroyed under Egyptian military protection.
July 4, Al-Quds. Tunnels between Egypt and Gaza are destroyed under Egyptian military protection.

Compounding hardships in Gaza
Although this is not the first time that Egypt has moved to close the tunnels between Egypt and Gaza, having flooded many with sewage earlier in the year under Morsi, the closing of the tunnels is very alarming given their importance in keeping the remains of an economy in tact in Gaza. An estimated 10,000 Palestinians including a number of children work these tunnels. UN Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley recently reiterated the call for the full lifting of the Israeli blockade which is preventing the development of any real economy in Gaza. He detailed the impact of these restrictions, which he described as disproportionately impacting the most impoverished. 57% of Gazans cannot afford sufficient food, 80% rely on foreign aid in some way, and the restriction of access to a third of agricultural land and two-thirds of Gaza’s fishing waters is costing farmers and fisherman dearly.

The Electronic Intifada is already reporting that Palestinians attempting to return to Gaza via Cairo Airport are being deported back to the country of departure and forced to cover the expenses themselves.


I’d like to hear from readers what they think about this situation in Egypt and what potential consequences the unfolding events might have on Palestinians, especially from those themselves living under the Israeli siege or occupation. Please do respond with your own thoughts.