Alert Update: Prisoners of Faith Campaign (Egypt) – Muslim Brotherhood: Khairat Al-Shater

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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11 February 2008

Alert Update: Prisoners of Faith Campaign (Egypt) – Muslim Brotherhood: Khairat Al-Shater

Contents
1. Summary
2. Background
3. Action Required
4. Sample Letters

1. Summary
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) trial to be held today, 11 February 2008, will witness the last pleading of the defence team. Many noteworthy human rights activists will be attending this trial including anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, former congressman Walter A. Fauntroy, Executive Director of Muslim American Society (MAS) Mahdi Bray and chairperson of Arab Commission of Human Rights Violette Dagherre.

Previously, in a December 2007 trial session, additional charges of running and financing a banned organization were levelled against several detained Muslim Brotherhood (MB) members, including the third-in-command Khairat Al-Shater. The original charges of money laundering, terrorism and belonging to a banned organization still stand.

Meanwhile the Egyptian government increased its crackdown on MB members and arrested many as they held protests in solidarity with the besieged Palestinians of Gaza. More than 200 MB members were detained but many were released later. However, the crackdown against MB members continues.

As the defence holds the last pleading session, IHRC requests all campaigners to write to the respective authorities mentioned at the end of the alert and urge them to ensure the release of the detained MB members.

2. Background
Khairat Al-Shater, deputy to the supreme guide of Muslim Brotherhood (MB), was captured along with many other influential MB leaders and student members on 14 December 2006 in relation to an incident which took place on 10 December 2006, when many student members of MB carried out a demonstration to protest against government involvement in student elections. MB was accused of forming a secret militia and of equipping student members with combat training and weapons.

Since their detention, the MB military trial has had several sessions, but there has been no positive outcome, instead many injustices and breaches of international human rights standards have been reported.

More than 100 international observers and representatives from various human rights organizations came to attend the MB trial sessions in June 2007, as part of the defence team, however most of them were denied access to the trial sessions, including former attorney general of USA Ramsey Clark, British journalist Yvonne Ridley, former council to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Sir Ivan Lawrence, and representatives from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Arab Commission for Human Rights. Mr Ali M Azhar, a prominent British Barrister, was refused entry into Egypt and turned back at Cairo airport, he subsequently returned to the UK.

It was revealed in one of the trial sessions held in June 2007 that only one person carried out the investigations on behalf of the prosecution against the detained MB leaders, hence this made the defence team question the objectivity of the investigation. The prosecution produced items of evidence including publications, computers and weapons said to have been confiscated from the homes of the defendants. However the evidence was not substantial as Hamza Salah Abu Ismail, a member of the defence team, stated that the ‘prosecution’s case was full of holes and that an appeal had already been lodged with the constitutional court questioning the competence of the trial procedures.’

In a later trial session in December 2007, the military court amended its bill of indictment by dropping some charges against the defendants and adding others. The charges of terrorism and money laundering were dropped, however, the charge of belonging to a banned organization still stands. New charges, such as running and financing a banned organization were levelled against seven defendants. These defendants included Khairat Al-Shater and Hassan Malek who were charged with ‘managing the group’s finances and investing in companies and institutions on behalf of the group.’ If they are found guilty, they can face at least five years in prison.

However, in a later trial session in the same month, the court announced that it will ‘keep all the charges as a precaution.’ Al-Shater’s lawyer, Ragaae Atiya withdrew from being Mr Al-Shater’s lawyer as a protest against the new charges and the illegitimacy of the trial. MB lawyer Abdul Moneim Abdul Maqsoud stated that the charges are politically motivated. In the latest trial session of January 2008, the defence lawyers continued pleading against the charges of money laundry and financing a banned group and the illegitimacy of the military trial.

For a detailed account of the events which lead to Khairat Al-Shater’s arrest and the developments thereafter, please download the campaign pack at: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=2652

3. Action Required

a. Write to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms Louise Arbour, and request her to work for the release of Khairat Al-Shater and all other MB political prisoners in Egypt.

Ms Louise Arbour
UN High Commissioner on Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: InfoDesk@ohchr.org

b. Write to the Foreign Minister in your country and urge him/her to work for the release of Khairat Al-Shater and all other MB political prisoners in Egypt.

UK campaigners can write to:

Rt. Hon. David Miliband MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London
SW1A 2AH

Fax: +44 0207 839 2417
Email: private.office@fco.gov.uk

c. Write to the Egyptian Ambassador in your country and urge him/her to ensure release of Khairat Al-Shater and all the other MB political prisoners in Egypt.

UK campaigners can write to:

HE Mr Gehad Refaat Madi
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
26 South Street
London W1K 1DW

Fax: +44 20 7491 1542
Email: etembuk@hotmail.com

4. Sample Letters

Sample letters are given below for your convenience

Sample letters are given below for your convenience. Please note that model letters can be sent directly or adjusted as necessary to include further details. If you receive a reply to the letter you send, we request you to send a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received to IHRC. This is extremely important as it helps IHRC to monitor the situation with regards to our campaigns and to improve upon the current model letters.

a. Sample Letter to UN Commissioner on Human Rights, Ms Louise Arbour

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

Dear Ms Louise Arbour,

Re: Khairat Al-Shater and other Muslim Brotherhood Members’ Military Trial

I am writing to you regarding Khairat Al-Shater and several other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders and members detained in Egypt since 14 December 2006. They were arrested after some students, affiliated to the society, staged a demonstration at Al Azhar University to protest against government interference in student elections.

Mr Al-Shater and the rest of the MB leaders are known for their good standing and reputable position in Egyptian society. The Cairo Criminal Court found no evidence of terrorism against the detainees and ordered their immediate release. However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry overruled the court decision and rearrested all the acquitted MB members. Thereafter, the state security prosecutor ordered the assets of all the detained leaders and their families to be frozen. A few days later, President Mubarak ordered the detainees to be tried in a military tribunal. This is not the first time that civilians in Egypt are being tried in a military court for non-military related charges.

The MB military trial has had several sessions, but there has been no positive outcome, instead many injustices and breaches of international human rights standards have been reported. Many noteworthy human rights activists, lawyers and international observers who came to Egypt to attend some trial sessions were turned down. Further, more charges have been levied against the detained members. Mr Al-Shater has been additionally charged with financing a banned organization.

As Egypt is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it is obliged to provide freedom of expression and association to its civilians and uphold the rights of the detainees. Yet, the regime is known for its suppression of political expression. Under the Emergency Law, the President has the authority to arrest suspects at will, detain them without trial for prolonged periods and refer civilians to military courts whose procedures fall far short of international standards for fair trial. The recent constitutional amendments give additional powers to the regime to tighten its control over Egyptian society and restrict freedom further.

We request you to ensure that appropriate working groups in your office work for the release of Khairat Al-Shater and all other MB political prisoners in Egypt.

Further, I request you to make representations to the Egyptian authorities to respect international human rights standards and to provide all citizens and opposition parties with their full civil rights, including the rights of freedom of expression and association.

I look forward to an early reply.

Yours sincerely

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

b. Sample Letter to Foreign Minister in Your Country

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

Re: Khairat Al-Shater and other Muslim Brotherhood Members in Military Trial

I am writing to you regarding Khairat Al-Shater and several other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders and members detained in Egypt since 14 December 2006. They were arrested after some students, affiliated to the society, staged a demonstration at Al Azhar University to protest against government interference in student elections.

Mr Al-Shater and the rest of the MB leaders are known for their good standing and reputable position in Egyptian society. The Cairo Criminal Court found no evidence of terrorism against the detainees and ordered their immediate release. However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry overruled the court decision and rearrested all the acquitted MB members. Thereafter, the state security prosecutor ordered the assets of all the detained leaders and their families to be frozen. A few days later, President Mubarak ordered the detainees to be tried in a military tribunal. This is not the first time that civilians in Egypt are being tried in a military court for non-military related charges.

The MB military trial has had several sessions, but there has been no positive outcome, instead many injustices and breaches of international human rights standards have been reported. Many noteworthy human rights activists, lawyers and international observers who came to Egypt to attend some trial sessions were turned down. Further, more charges have been levied against the detained members. Mr Al-Shater has been additionally charged with financing a banned organization.

As Egypt is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it is obliged to provide freedom of expression and association to its civilians and uphold the rights of the detainees. Yet, the regime is known for its suppression of political expression. Under the Emergency Law, the President has the authority to arrest suspects at will, detain them without trial for prolonged periods and refer civilians to military courts whose procedures fall far short of international standards for fair trial. The recent constitutional amendments give additional powers to the regime to tighten its control over Egyptian society and restrict freedom further.

We request you to make representations on behalf of Khairat Al-Shater and the rest of the MB detainees. Your department has committed itself to promoting human rights and in this circumstance there has been a clear travesty of justice, where the detainees’ human rights have been abused.

Further, I request you to make representations to the Egyptian authorities to respect international human rights standards and to provide all citizens and opposition parties with their full civil rights, including the rights of freedom of expression and association.

I look forward to an early reply.

Yours sincerely

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

c. Sample Letter to Egyptian Ambassador to Your Country

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[Date]

Dear [Recipient’s Name],

Re: Khairat Al-Shater and other Muslim Brotherhood Members in Military Trial

I am writing to you regarding Khairat Al-Shater and several other Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders and members detained in Egypt since 14 December 2006. They were arrested after some students, affiliated to the society, staged a demonstration at Al Azhar University to protest against government interference in student elections.

Mr Al-Shater and the rest of the MB leaders are known for their good standing and reputable position in Egyptian society. The Cairo Criminal Court found no evidence of terrorism against the detainees and ordered their immediate release. However, the Egyptian Interior Ministry overruled the court decision and rearrested all the acquitted MB members. Thereafter, the state security prosecutor ordered the assets of all the detained leaders and their families to be frozen. A few days later, President Mubarak ordered the detainees to be tried in a military tribunal. This is not the first time that civilians in Egypt are being tried in a military court for non-military related charges.

The MB military trial has had several sessions, but there has been no positive outcome, instead many injustices and breaches of international human rights standards have been reported. Many noteworthy human rights activists, lawyers and international observers who came to Egypt to attend some trial sessions were turned down. Further, more charges have been levied against the detained members. Mr Al-Shater has been additionally charged with financing a banned organization.

Your country is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), it is obliged to provide freedom of expression and association to its civilians and uphold the rights of the detainees. Yet, political expression is routinely suppressed in Egypt. Under the Emergency Law, the President has the authority to arrest suspects at will, detain them without trial for prolonged periods and refer civilians to military courts whose procedures are not in accordance with international standards for fair trial. The recent constitutional amendments give additional powers to the government to tighten its control over the society and restrict freedom further.

I request you to work for the immediate release of Khiarat Al-Shater and the other MB detainees.

Further, I request you to ensure that international human rights standards are respected in your country and that all citizens and opposition parties are provided with their full civil rights, including the rights of freedom of expression and association.

I look forward to an early reply.

Yours sincerely

[Your Signature]
[Your Name]

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