Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Egyptian prosecutor releases detained protesters

Wed Apr 7, 2010

CAIRO (AP)– Egypt's prosecutor general on Wednesday ordered the release of
all the protesters arrested during a demonstration calling for reform a
day earlier.

Several dozen protesters briefly chanted for freedom in front of Egypt's
upper house of parliament in downtown Cairo on Tuesday, calling for an end
to emergency law and amending the constitution to allow more open

The protest was violently dispersed by police who beat demonstrators and
threw them into waiting trucks. Photographers and TV cameramen covering
the demonstration were also targeted.

The prosecutor's office did not explain the reasons behind their decision
to release those arrested.

The Egyptian Interior Ministry, which controls the police, said in a
statement that 33 protesters were detained after defying orders to
disperse and hurling rocks at police injuring 10 of them. It said most
protesters were released shortly after they were arrested.

The ministry said it had already banned a day before the protest organized
by April 6 movement, which it also says is illegal.

The ministry maintained that its suppression of the demonstration was not
contrary to freedom of expression because the issue of reform is already
being extensively discussed by the opposition parties.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the
United States was "deeply concerned" about the arrests and called on the
Egyptian government to uphold the rights of its people "to express their
political views peacefully."

"The people of Egypt should be able to participate in the political
process and ultimately determine who will run and win Egypt's upcoming
elections," Crowley told reporters Wednesday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also voiced its concern, and condemned
the "lawless brutality" with which authorities dispersed demonstrators,
saying that 91 people had been detained.

Egypt has been under emergency law, which severely restricts civil rights,
for 29 years during the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who will stand
for re-election in 2011.

BBC April 7, 2010

Egyptian police stifle protests

Uniformed and plain-clothed Egyptian police in Cairo stand guard close to
a courthouse in Cairo while protesters stage a rally on 6 April 2009
A heavy police presence seems to have prevented major demonstrations

Police in Egypt have been deployed in large numbers to prevent a national
strike by pro-democracy activists.

Police had orders to arrest anyone taking part, and a number of activists
have been held in recent days.

Protests appear to have been small, but about 100 MPs, out of 454, walked
out of parliament as part of the protest.

The organisers of Monday's action had urged people to wear black and
called for protests including sit-ins at places of work or study.

The call to protest was circulated through SMS messages and social
networking sites.

[Change] is desperately needed in Egypt after more than 30 years of
one-person rule. Egypt deserves much better than that

Ayman Nour
Opposition leader

The campaigners are pressing the government to raise the national minimum
wage and are calling for a new constitution to be drafted.

Activists were hoping it would build on a protest demanding economic and
political reform they held for the first time last year.

Three people died in the protests in April 2008 and hundreds were arrested.

Egypt is run under a emergency law that has been in place since the
assassination of President Anwar Sadat in 1981.

Brotherhood backing

The Muslim Brotherhood, believed to be the biggest opposition organisation
in Egypt despite its being outlawed, has also backed the protest.

On Monday hundreds of riot police were stationed in city-centre squares
and around universities to prevent demonstrators from gathering.

About 100 protesters gathered at the journalists' association headquarters
in Cairo and chanted anti-government slogans.

Hundreds of students also demonstrated on university campuses in Cairo and
the southern city of Assiut.

Ayman Nour , the leader of the opposition Ghad (Tomorrow) Party who has
recently been released from jail, told the BBC Arabic Service that it was
premature to judge the strike and that events were being organised
throughout the day, across the country.

He said that change in Egypt was necessary to break the political
stagnation in the country: "[Change] is desperately needed in Egypt after
more than 30 years of one-person rule. Egypt deserves much better than

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