MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA

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bahrain arrests_BFHR Still responding to the Arab Spring in 2011, many governments in the region have increasingly restricted space for citizens to mobilize and organize.  Coupled with severe anti-terrorism measures, many governments impose harsh penalties for speaking out on human rights violations, holding peaceful public gatherings, and questioning authorities and religious teaching.  In recent years, an increasing number of political prisoners has been witnessed in Bahrain and Egypt in particular.

 

Ismail Alexandrani

EGYPT

Detained on November 29, 2015

UPDATE: On May 22 a military court in Egypt sentenced Ismail Alexandrani to 10-years in prison after the journalist already spent two and a half years in pretrial detention.

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Hisham Gaafar

EGYPT

Detained on October 21, 2015

Hisham Gaafar is a prominent Egyptian journalist, researcher, and the director of the Mada Foundation for Media Development. On October 21, 2015, police forces stormed Gaafar’s office without a warrant, searched the premises, and arrested Gaafar. The prosecution charged Gaafar with belonging “to a banned group [Muslim Brotherhood] and international bribery.” The Arabic Network For Human Rights Information claimed that his report titled “Strengthening the Democratic Political Sphere in Egypt” led to his detention in October 2015.
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Abduljalil Al-Singace

BAHRAIN

Detained March 17, 2011
 Abduljalil Al-Singace, arrested on March 17, 2011, is a Bahraini human rights activist, engineer, and blogger who managed the blog “Al-Faseela,” which frequently highlighted criticism on the lack of freedom in Bahrain. Following his arrest, a military court quickly sentenced him to life in prison for “plotting to overthrow the government.”

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The Nubian “Dafoof Detainees”

EGYPT

Detained in 2017
 On September 3, 2017, Egyptian authorities arrested 24 Nubian activists, including human rights lawyers Maysara Abdoun and Mohamed Azmy, during a peaceful demonstration in Aswan, Egypt. The activists are protesting the forced displacement of Nubians from their historic lands between 1912 and 1964 and are demanding that the Egyptian government grant them “their right to return” per the Constitution.

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Mohamed Adel

EGYPT

Detained on December 18, 2013

UPDATE: On 22 January 2017, after spending three years in jail, he was released and began his probation term. He remains under strict government surveillance. The confining nature of his probation has prevented him from having a wedding and attending his university classes. Mohamed Adel is the media spokesperson and founder of the April 6 Youth Movement. On December 18, 2013, Adel was arrested by Egyptian authorities after they stormed the offices of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). Adel was volunteering in the organization’s media unit at the time.


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Haitham Mohamedeen

 

On October 10, 2018, the Criminal Chamber of the Fifth Compound Courts Complex ordered the conditional release of Haitham Mohamedeen (also Haytham Mohamadeen), an activist and labor rights lawyer, who was arbitrarily detained for five months. Following the order for his release, Mohamedeen was disappeared from prison by the State Security Prosecution. For 18 days, his whereabouts and condition were not made known to his family or his lawyer.

Front Line Defenders notes that “this only one example of how the State Security Prosecution systematically bypasses judiciary rulings in Egypt; several human rights defenders who were released by court rulings have been disappeared from prisons.” Mohamedeen continues to face judicial harassment from the Egyptian government, requiring him to appear twice weekly to a police station on “precautionary measures.”

Mohamedeen was arrested from his home on May 16, 2018, but his location remained unknown until he was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on May 19, 2018. The prosecution ordered a 15-day detention period while he was investigated for charges of “joining a terrorist organization” and “inciting protests.” Mohamedeen was charged and continues to be harassed under case No. 718/2018—a case brought against 20 individuals involved in protests over a hike in metro fares. Reports note that Mohamedeen did not take part in these protests.

As a vocal activist, Mohamedeen has faced harassment and unwarranted detention by the Egyptian government throughout his lifetime. In 2016, he was arrested alongside 152 other activists and detained for six months for calling for protests over Egypt’s transferal of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. In 2013, he was arbitrarily detained at a military checkpoint while en route to meet with factory workers who requested his legal counsel. He was released after two days without charge or explanation.

Abdulhadi Al Khawaja

BAHRAIN

Detained March 17, 2011
 Bahraini authorities arrested Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former President and Co-Founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), for his involvement in the country’s peaceful 2011 pro-democracy Pearl Uprising. Three months later, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly organizing and managing a “terrorist organization,” (which most civil society organizations are classified as in Bahrain), and attempting to overthrow the government.

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Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos

BAHRAIN

Detained August 13, 2010
On April 1, 2011, Bahraini police arrested Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos, religious leader, member of the pro-democracy group Bahrain 13, and Vice President of the Al-Zaharaa Society of Orphans. During his arrest, police blindfolded and brutally beat Al-Mahroos in front of his family. Shortly after, a military court charged him with “conspiring against the government and plotting to overthrow the regime” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. LEARN MORE

Ahmed Maher

EGYPT

Detained on November 30, 2013
UPDATE: On January 4, 2017, Ahmed Maher was released from jail after serving a three-year sentence and is now under house arrest. He is a founder and former general coordinator of the April 6 Youth Movement, an Egyptian political activist group.  On November 30, 2013, Maher was arrested on charges that he “took part in an illegal assembly, blocked traffic and called for a protest without obtaining Interior Ministry permission.”

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Ahmed Douma

EGYPT

Detained December 3, 2013
UPDATE: In October 2017, the Egyptian Court of Cassation ruled in favor of Ahmed Douma's appeal against his lifelong sentence and ordered a retrial. Moreover, in February 2018 the Maadi Court of Misdemeanors reduced Douma's three-year prison sentence and fine for insulting the judiciary to a fine. On May 24, the Egyptian Court of Cassation also ordered a retrial in this case. 

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Aya Hijazi and Mohamed Hassanein

EGYPT

Detained on May 1, 2014

UPDATE: On April 16, 2017, Egyptian-American Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, the founders of Belady Foundation for Street Children, were found not guilty and released from prison. The foundation was launched in 2013 and focused on rehabilitating Cairo’s street children and broader developmental programs. On May 1, 2014, the organization’s offices were raided and the couple was arrested alongside two volunteers and 17 children who were on the premises at the time. The couple was charged with “child abuse,” “human trafficking,” and “inciting and exploiting children to participate in violent protests,” among other charges.

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Nabeel Rajab

BAHRAIN

Detained June 13, 2016
UPDATE: On June 5, a Bahraini appeals court ruled that the 5-year prison sentence against prominent human rights activist Nabeel Rajab would be upheld. Earlier this year, Rajab was convicted for his critical tweets on Saudi Arabia's involvement in Yemen and on Bahrain's deplorable prison conditions. Rajab himself did not attend today's hearing, but his defense team emphasized that due process requirements had been violated. Rajab can now only appeal to Bahrain's Court of Cassation or be pardoned by Bahrain's king, Hamad Isa Khalifa. 

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Amal Fathy

EGYPT

Detained May 11, 2018

Amal Fathy was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for posting a Facebook video in which she discusses sexual harassment in Egypt. She also faces charges under a separate case, in which she was questioned about her husband’s non-governmental organization.

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Wael Abbas

EGYPT

Detained May 23, 2018
Released December 12, 2018

Wael Abbas is an internationally regarded activist and award winning journalist who was imprisoned for seven months. Abbas has documented deteriorating individual freedoms and police brutality in Egypt through his Misr Digital blog, for which he received the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award.

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Amr Ali

EGYPT

Detained on September 22, 2015


In October 2013, Amr Ali was elected as the new head of the April 6 Youth Movement, succeeding founder Ahmed Maher. In September 22, 2015, the security forces arrested Ali in the city of Ashmoun, Monufiya, and transferred him to the National Security Agency for interrogations. In February 29, 2016, Ali was sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds for “conspiring to overthrow the government.”

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Zeynab Jalalian

IRAN

Detained in 2007
 Zeynab Jalalian is an Iranian political activist, member of the ethnic group in the Middle East, Kurdish. According to her family she was arrested in July 2007. On 26 November 2009 the Supreme Court confirmed her death sentence on charges of "moharebeh (enmity with God)," and "cooperation with Party For Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK)”, which she denies. That was the day before, Zeynab wrote a letter in which she claimed to have been tortured. Her death sentence has now been commuted to life imprisonment.

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