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Monday, December 23, 2013

 Prominent Human Rights Activists Sentenced to Three Years, Fined

Egyptian human rights activists Ahmed Douma, Ahmed Maher and Mohammed Adel were all sentenced to three years in prison and slapped with over $7,000 each in fines yesterday, amid international condemnation.  All three are well-known public figures who played important roles in the 2011 Egyptian revolution. The court’s decision referenced a new and controversial protest law which Egypt’s military-backed government enacted last month: the three were found guilty of participating in illegal protests, and attacking police and police property. The April 6 Youth Movement called the three men “symbols” of the 2011 revolution and described the current governmental process as a “comic play” and called the verdict a flagrant violation of civil freedoms and rights. Several international and Egyptian human rights groups released a statement yesterday, saying “there can be no doubt that the ruling against the three activists is politicized and is an extension of security’s targeting of the three activists and others in a clear and deliberate fashion.”

Sinai Group Threatens Military

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a militant group based in the restive Sinai peninsula region, has issued a warning statement to Egypt’s police and military telling them to halt their crackdown or else they will be killed. The group has claimed responsibility for a car bomb assassination attempt on Egypt’s minister of the interior in September; the minister, Mohamed Ibrahim, escaped uninjured. Egypt’s northern Sinai region has witnessed an uptick in unrest and violent attacks on police stations and military patrols by unknown gunmen since former president Mohamed Morsi was ousted in early July of this year.

Suez Activist Killed

Bassem Mohsen, a prominent activist from Suez, was reportedly shot in the head by police while protesting this weekend and died from his wounds. Mohsen played a role in various protest movements over the past few years: he lost his left eye in the Mohamed Mahmoud street clashes in 2011 during protests against police brutality, and was also beaten severely while protesting against former President Mohamed Morsi’s rule in 2012. Mohsen was also active in Tamarod, the group that organized the mass protests in late June that led to Morsi’s ouster. On Friday, Mohsen was protesting in Suez against the interim military-backed government alongside supporters of the deposed president when he was shot in the head, and died in a hospital days later.

Egypt to Pay Back Oil Firms

This week, Egypt began the process of paying back the over $6 billion it owes to international energy firms for crude oil supplies. The state paid $1.5 billion this week to oil companies and energy firms like BP, Edison SpA and the U.A.E.-based Dana gas company, in a move that was seen as an attempt to reassure foreign investors that Egypt. The Egyptian government has avoided tackling this debt since the former president was deposed in early July, and some analysts say that the actual figure owed is much higher than the projected $6 billion.

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