Egypt: Human rights defender Tarek Hussein freed from prison!

11 August 2017, 11:33 UTC | Egypt

Human rights defender Tarek Hussein was released on 27 July. After being arbitrarily detained for 40 days, the former prisoner of conscience has now joined his family.

“Thanks to all those who stood in solidarity with me while I was detained. With your solidarity, prisoners of conscience get stronger. Your activism is not less than the activism of human rights defenders.”

Tarek Hussein

The Egyptian police released Tarek Mohamed Ahmed Hussein, a lawyer and human rights defender on 27 July after arbitrarily detaining him since 17 June. The police kept him in detention despite the prosecutor’s ordering his release on bail on 18 June. During his detention, the police held him incommunicado for 12 days and abused him. Tarek Hussein could still potentially be imprisoned as the Prosecutor has not formally closed the investigation.

Tarek Hussein with his brother Mahmoud after his release (Twitter @HMahmoudmohmed)

Tarek Hussein told Amnesty International that he was detained in poor condition. He said that he was forced to endure crowded cells, rotten food, unsanitary conditions, and bad ventilation for days. The police kept moving him between three prisons, three police stations, and nine courts across Egypt.

Tarek Hussein is a human rights defender and lawyer who works at the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). He is also a member of the Freedom for the Brave campaign, a civil society organization working to advance the rights of detainees. Tarek Hussein’s arrest came amidst of a renewed crackdown on human rights defenders. Tarek Hussein was the lawyer for several who were arrested in that crackdown. Amnesty International believes that Tarek Hussein was detained solely for his activities as a human rights defender and for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Though Tarek is free, many are not. Mahmoud Abu Zeid (also known as Shawkan) was arrested on 14 August 2013 at a protest in Egypt, for simply doing his job, as a photojournalist.  He has now been imprisioned for four years and is not receiving the medical care he requires for Hepatitis C. In a recent court hearing he told the judge: “Taking pictures isn’t a crime.” He’s rightUrge Egypt to drop all charges against Shawkan and free him immediately.

“Defending human rights is not a crime, expressing ourselves peacefully is not a crime. All these are our rights and not a gift from the government....If the price for our struggle for human rights is prison, then it is but a small price for a free and strong Egypt.”

- Tarek Hussein

Tarek Hussein told Amnesty International that: “Defending human rights is not a crime, expressing ourselves peacefully is not a crime. All these are our rights and not a gift from the government. Even if the government perceives defending human rights as a crime, we will keep on doing it. The real crimes are torture, enforced disappearances, and abusing political opponents. If the price for our struggle for human rights is prison, then it is but a small price for a free and strong Egypt.”

Tarek Hussein also extended his gratitude to all those who stood beside him. He said: “Thanks to all those who stood in solidarity with me while I was detained. With your solidarity, prisoners of conscience get stronger. Your activism is not less than the activism of human rights defenders.”

Egyptian police has previously detained his brother Mahmoud Hussein, then 18 years old, for protesting while wearing a “Nation without Torture” T-shirt, and a scarf with a logo of the “25 January Revolution.” They detained Mahmoud Hussein for over two years without trial, until his release on 11 April 2016. During his detention, he reported that National Security officers had tortured him into making a filmed “confession” of a series of spurious criminal offences, including belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement, possessing explosives and taking part in an unauthorized protest.

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