On June 29, 2014, the first session of the case of the 7 women human rights defenders was conducted, among others, known as the Ittihadia Presidential Palace Case, and the judge adjourned the session by postponing it until September 13, 2014. The session was moved this morning from the Heliopolis Misdemeanor Court to the Police Institute near Tora Prison. The judge presiding over the case left the courtroom without informing the lawyers of his decision, and the lawyers were only able to confirm the judge's decision 3 hours later, which they had initially obtained from the security staff at court.
The seven women human rights defenders are Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo) and Fikreya Mohamed (known as Rania El-Sheikh). The seven aforementioned women human rights defenders were arrested on 21 June 2014 along with others for protesting peacefully against the Protest and Public Assembly Law.
Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif are both prominent women human rights defender. Yara Sallam is a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and she was awarded the North Africa Shield 2013 for her work in Egypt with Nazra for Feminist Studies. Amongst the other women human rights defenders arrested are Fikreya Mohamed and Salwa Mihriz who are both activists from the Mahalla (Gharbia governorate). Salwa Mihriz works specifically on the rights of the wounded and the wikithawra documentation initiative.
The charges that have been directed at the women human rights defenders along with the other persons arrested have been updated as follows: (1) Participating in an unauthorized demonstration whose aim was to stop the implementation of the law and influence the effectiveness of the public authorities during the carrying out of their work. The possession of safeguards and tools that could cause death if they had been used as weapons; (2) Organizing a demonstration without prior notice as stipulated by the law and the participation in a demonstration that breached and threatened public security and the interests of citizens and disrupted transportation and transgressed public and private property; (3) The use of force and violence to terrorize and intimidate citizens; (4) The deliberate destruction of property owned by the aggrieved party as proven through investigations.
Nazra for Feminist Studies reiterates its call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the women human rights defenders and the other detainees and drop all charges directed at them stemming from the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Moreover, the judge’s exit of the courtroom without informing the lawyers of his decision today is a breach to the detainees' right to a transparent and just trial.
For further information on this case, please refer to Nazra for Feminist Studies’ urgent appeal on the case dated 22 June 2014.