The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) expresses deep concern over the escalation of criminal pursuit against labor rights activists through fabricating charges for a number of workers and labor activists so as to terrorize the workers who claim their rights, and to prevent labor activists from raising awareness among workers.
In the framework of providing legal support for labor rights defenders, the lawyers of ECESR criminal justice unit assumed the role of defending a number of labor activists in criminal cases within the past few days.
Rehan arrested and charged with “insulting the President”
The leading labor activist Mahmoud Rehan, air traffic control officer at Cairo International Airport, was arrested on 20 November. He was charged with insulting the President of the Republic, and with posting allegedly false news and statements likely to disturb public security on his personal account on “Facebook”. The Public Prosecution remanded him in custody and urgently committed him for trial after interrogation without the presence of his lawyer. They didn’t allow his lawyers to see the case papers, or even appeal against the prosecutor’s decision. On December 4, the defense team, including ECESR lawyers, succeeded in getting an acquittal decision.
Endowments’ workers face arrest
On the same day of handing down the acquittal decision, the security forces arrested a number of laborers working for the Directorate of Alexandria Endowments on their way to the Office of the Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) in Cairo to brief the Minister on the harsh measures taken against them: suspending their salaries and forcing them to sign unfairly acknowledgements that prevent them from claiming their rights. When arrived to the headquarters of the ministry, they were not allowed to meet the minister. Forced to wait in front of the ministry door, the security forces stormed them and arrested 28 workers and detained them in Abdeen police station. Members of the National Security investigated them and decided to release 23 workers, and detained five on charges of demonstration without a license. They were brought before Abdeen Prosecutor’s Office which interrogated and released them on bail, LE 500 each.
Ayman Fakhri Sentenced to Two Years
Arresting this number of workers has occurred a day after arresting the labor activist Ayman Fakhruddin during showing his solidarity with the workers of Iron and Steel Company in Helwan, who went on protest to claim their rights to profits. He was brought before Tabeen Prosecutor who remanded him in custody for 4 days, and then referred urgently to the Court of Misdemeanors. He was accused of inciting workers through allegedly having published and distributed leaflets urging them to stop working. On Tuesday, December 9th, the court sentenced him to two years and a fine of 10 thousand pounds. As part of the verdict, he was released on bail until holding the appeal hearing.
ECESR lawyers said that these practices bring labor struggle to zero squire: struggling for survival rather than looking for more of the legitimate rights secured under the Constitution and law.