Despite his critical health condition and the weak accusations against Tarek Moustafa Ke’eib, the Misdemeanor Court decided to imprison the man as a preventive measure for fifteen days, case to be reviewed on October 2nd 2017.
The current week have witnessed an intensive activity of the security services targeting the leaders of independent trade unions of the employees in Taxes’ Authority with the arrest of five members of the Real Estate Tax trade union, two members of the General Taxes trade union, and two trade union members of the workers in the Company of Electricity while rumors circulate about the intention of security forces to arrest others.
By the end of the week, the overall situation could be summarized as follows:
The arrest of Fatma Fouad, head of the Sales Taxes trade union was arrested on the evening of Sunday September 17 2017, kept for one day at the headquarters of the National Security in Abbassiah and released on September 18;
Lawsuit number 1764/2017 of Omraniya Misdemeanor led to the arrest of
Tarek Ibrahim Fathi Ahmad Hammam known as Tarek El Kashef (from the trade union of the General Taxes) and
Mohamed Bassiouni Hassan Badr (from the trade union of the General Taxes)
On the evening of September 17, both men were presented to the office of general prosecutor, Omraniya branch, which decided to imprison them four days under investigation. They were supposed to appear before the Omraniya Misdemeanor Court on September 19 for a decision on their status; however, the Court decided to postpone the decision to September 26 2017, as it was said that there were difficulties to bring them from prison!! This practically means an extension of the duration of their imprisonment.
Lawsuit number 12004/2017 Kafr El Zayyat led to the arrest of
Tarek Moustafa Ke’eib, head of the Real Estate Taxes employees’ trade union (in Kafr El Sheikh, governorate of Qaliyoubiah
Said Ali Gamei, Real Estate Taxes employees’ trade union, (in Kafr El Zayyat, governorate of Gharbiya)
Ayman Fathi El Sabbagh, Real Estate Taxes employees’ trade union (in Berket El Sab’a, governorate of Menoufiya)
Atef Fathi, Real Estate Taxes employees’ trade union (in the New Valley governorate)
Mohamed Abdel Hamid Hassan, Real Estate Taxes employees’ trade union (in Miniya governorate)
Mohamed El Hendawi Said, workers’ leader at the Company of Electricity (in Sammanoud, governorate of Gharbiya)
Abd El Ghoneimi Qaddous, workers’ leader at the Company of Electricity (in Sammanoud, governorate of Gharbiya)
They all appeared before the office of the general prosecutor that decided to imprison them four days under investigation; the Misdemeanor Court examined their cases on September 18 and 19 and decided to release them against bails ranging from one thousand to five thousand pounds. However, the prosecutor office appealed the decision, and the Appeal Misdemeanor Court exchanged the bail with fifteen days of imprisonment to be re-examined on October 2nd, meaning that they will remain imprisoned at least until this date.
Lawyers were prevented from getting acquainted with the process-verbal and the charges delivered against these trade unions’ leaders; therefore, according to the rare available information, their charges include instigation to demonstration or to strike; on the other hand, lawsuit number 13764/2017 considered the affiliation to the trade union as one of the accusations and the participation in a meeting at the headquarter of the trade union another accusation by virtue of lawsuit number 12004/2017 Kafr El Zayyat.
Overall, we find ourselves before quite weird charges: how instigation to demonstration could be considered an accusation when demonstration itself is not an accusation but rather a right consecrated by the Egyptian Constitution and organized by Law 107/2013 regardless the defects included in this Law which remains highly criticized.
On December 3 2016, The Supreme Constitutional Court held that the first paragraph of Article 10 of this Law was in direct violation with Article 73 of the Egyptian Constitution; this decision led to the replacement of the provision granting the Ministry of Interior the right to ban protests if it was considered a threat to the general order by the enactment of Law 14/2017 stating that such decision should be submitted to the judge of temporary cases at the concerned Primary Court.
Article 73 of 2014 Constitution states in its first paragraph that “Citizens shall have the right to organize public meetings, marches, demonstrations and all forms of peaceful protests, without carrying arms of any kind, by serving a notification as regulated by Law”.
We note here that the Supreme Constitutional Court based its ruling on the fact that the Constitution does not authorize the legislature to choose the means by which the right to protest and the right of assembly may be exercised. It ruled that notification, and no other method (such as permission or licensing) is the means by which this right to protest is to be exercised.
Notification is defined as announcing or informing the administration of the intent to exercise this right; it does not depend upon the administration’s agreement, or their lack of opposition in the matter. There is no justification for impeding the exercise of this right. Should a demonstration be prohibited, or the right be restricted in some way, the substance and essence of the right would be infringed upon, thus violating the Constitution.
The rule of the Supreme Constitutional Court added that the Constitution imposed on the both the legislative and executive powers such restrictions in order to secure the respect of public rights and freedoms, on top of which is the right of assembly and peaceful demonstration, and to avoid that any of these powers invades the space protecting rights and freedoms. Moreover, the improvement of rights and freedoms came through the constant efforts aiming at implementing the international standards and concepts among civilized countries.
Accordingly, workers at the Authorities of General Taxes and Sales Taxes filled a notification of their intention organizing a sit-in to express their demands related to the incentives they deserve; the presented notification included all the information required by Law; however, the response to this notification was a wave of security measures of repression and the arrest of nine trade union leaders.
When the Egyptian Constitution referred to notification, it never intended that it might mean a trap for those willing to practice their right, or a reason justifying their arrest and the rise of charges against them for incitement to demonstration!!
The measures adopted here by the executive power are not a mere violation of this right, but rather a total abolition of the right to demonstrate upon notification.
More strangely, the trade union of Real Estate Taxes’ employees never announced organizing or participating in a sit-in; however, five of its leaders were arrested under the accusation of inciting to demonstration!!
How can the practice of a right turns into an accusation, and a mere intention becoming a crime, or the affiliation to a trade union a dangerous violation of the Law for the simple reason that this trade union is independent and acts outside the boundaries of governmental hegemony.
The Center of Trade Union and Workers Services renews it condemn of the security measures of arrests, and reiterates the right of all Egyptian workers in establishing their independent trade unions; actually, the real and genuine role of a trade union is to express and defend the interests and rights of workers through the practice of the legitimate right for peaceful assembly, demonstrations and strikes as well as all means of peaceful pressures..
CTUWS reconfirms the fact that the workers’ movement is a social movement possessing its own motives and awareness; therefore, the adoption of a security logic that deals with crises with the mere practice of repression and dissemination of terror will only conduct to the escalation of these crises. We repeat here that our deep conviction is that a stable society is synonymous to a balanced society where social categories are capable of expressing their interests and engaging in open dialogue and negotiations about them, impacting thus the spheres of policy-making and contributing in the discussion and amendment of the policies affecting their lives.
We call again for the immediate release of the nine arrested trade unions’ leaders under accusations that have no concrete or legal support.
CTUWS would like also to address its gratitude to all who showed solidarity with the trade unions’ leaders and to inform them that the family of Tarek Ke’eib was able to deliver to him the necessary medication for his case. We invite you to express additional signs of solidarity by requesting the immediate release of these workers, and especially for Tarek Ke’eib whose health conditions remains critical and quite worrying,
The Center of Trade Unions and Workers Services
Wednesday September 20 , 2017 evening