Citizens International strongly condemns the death sentence passed by Egypt’s kangaroo court on President Mohamed Morsi and more than hundred others. Those sentenced to death in absentia include the highly respected Sunni Ulama Yusuf al-Qardawi, Emad Shahin, a highly accomplished professor of political science who has taught at the American University in Cairo and Georgetown University, and the only woman, 29-year old Sondos Asem, spokesperson for the Freedom and Justice Party and editor of its website.
Mohamed Morsi was convicted on charges of plotting a daring 2011 prison escape with help from Hamas, and also on additional charges of conspiring with foreign agents against the nation during his short-lived presidency. Among the Palestinian ‘conspirators’ sentenced to death, three had been dead even before the date of the alleged offence.
Hossam al-Sanae, a member of Islamic Jihad group, was killed in an Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2008. Tayseer Abu Sneima, Mohamed Samir Abu Lebda and Mohamed Khalil Abu Shawesh, were killed in 2011, 2005 and 2007 respectively. Hassan Salama, a Palestinian prisoner has been serving a life sentence in Israel since 1996 and the Egyptian intelligence has knowledge of it. Clearly the case against President Morsi and the others is a blatant fabrication intended to silence those who oppose the military dictatorship in Egypt.
The United States and the European Union, as usual, have criticized the verdict but continue their close economic, military, cultural and diplomatic relations with the tyrannical military regime. The hypocrisy, double standard and deceit practiced by the West against Muslims for the last two hundred years still continues and will only lead to increased anger and violence among the victims.
The Egyptian judiciary has become a tool of the military to suppress the struggle of the Egyptian people for democracy and justice. In April 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced to death 683 alleged supporters of the Brotherhood, including spiritual leader Badie. US Senator Patrick Leahy castigated the verdict as “a total violation of human rights … an appalling abuse of the justice system … and shows a dictatorship run amok.”
In another case, 529 supporters of President Morsi were sentenced to death after just a two-day hearing. 400 of the accused were not in court but in police custody, and the defence lawyers were prevented from presenting their case or calling witnesses.
In December 2013, 21 young women were handed prison sentences ranging from 11 to 15 years for assembling on a street in Alexandria. They came to be known as the “7 a.m. Movement” because they protested the military-led government early in the morning on their way to university and school. On November 26, a court in Alexandria sentenced 78 teenage boys aged from 13 to 17 to between two and five years in prison for joining Muslim Brotherhood rallies during the past three months.
The authorities have failed to investigate thoroughly and make accountable members of the security forces responsible for the killing of over 1000 people during the dispersal of the Brotherhood sit-ins on August 14, 2013. During the UN Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review in November 2014, Iceland urged the authorities to “ensure thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the mass killings in [Rabaa Al-Adaweya] Square in 2013 and hold the perpetrators accountable.” The Egyptian government has ignored it and will continue to do so unless the international community applies effective pressure on it.
While cracking down on pro-democracy activists by imposing death sentences and long prison terms, the judges have been acquitting cronies and rogue elements of the security apparatus from the Hosni Mubarak regime who were involved in corruption, torture and crimes. Among the blatant judicial abuses is the dismissal of the murder and corruption charges against Mubarak. The supine judges also acquitted Mubarak’s much-hated security chief and a number of top police officials. His two sons and a wealthy business crony were also acquitted of corruption charges.
The international community’s tacit acceptance of the Egyptian government’s repression of the Islamists and secular activists will have serious consequences for peace and stability, not only in Egypt but also in the region and the world. As the New York Times editorialized: “…playing down Mr. Sisi’s repressive tactics is bound to backfire and drive aggrieved Egyptians to violence and extremism, destabilizing both Egypt and the region.” The growing discontent and frustration among the Egyptian youth will fuel the insurgency raging in Sinai. A successful attack by the insurgents on the Suez Canal will have a devastating effect on world trade, transportation and global security.
The Egyptian government is not going to listen to pleas and appeals from the international community. The powers embodied in the United Nations Charter to promote democracy, human rights, peace and global security must be used to dismantle the military dictatorship in Egypt.
We appeal to the UN Security Council to take the following actions to end the dictatorship in Egypt and help usher in an inclusive participatory democracy, justice and freedom for the people of Egypt:
1. Call on the Egyptian government to release President Mohamed Morsi and other political prisoners numbering over 42,000.
2. Condemn in the strongest terms the persistent climate of impunity and restrictions on peaceful assembly and expression, including the repeated excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Egyptian security forces against demonstrators which has resulted in the loss of life of a large number of protesters and bystanders.
3. Set up an International Fact-Finding Committee to conduct an investigation into all occurrences of killings of protesters and grave injuries, torture and human rights violations since January 25, 2011 and publish a report with recommendations.
4. Urge the Egyptian authorities to recognise the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate socio-political organisation in Egypt and to have an inclusive dialogue to map out the transition to democracy.
5. Direct the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to investigate the allegations against the Egyptian judiciary of abuse of power and corruption.
We also warn the hereditary rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirate to stop funding the Egyptian military dictatorship and suppressing the Islamic movement in their countries. They cannot, for long, resist with their petrol dollars and Western protectors the people’s demand for freedom and justice. If they fail to see the signs on the wall and address the demands of the masses, they will end up in the dustbin of history.
S.M. Mohamed Idris
CITIZENS INTERNATIONAL is a global initiative from Penang, Malaysia. It seeks to analyse the causes of increased militarisation of the planet and to work towards an environment of peace and international security including the preservation of social justice, ecology and sustainable development. CI also intends to support the development of traditional knowledge systems.