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Egypt: Online Campaigns to Release Arrested Protesters Underway

Egyptian cyber activists went back to their keyboards to demand the release of protesters and bystanders arrested on Sunday 15 May, 2011, for being at a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo to commemorate the Nakba (‘Day of Catastrophe’, as it is known in the Arab world) which marks the day the State of Israel was created in 1948.

Numerous blog posts, Facebook pages and Twitter hastags have sprung calling on the military to release the detainees. Ahram Online announced that the military prosecutor has released 17 protesters “due to their young age and schooling situation” and detained 119.

Detained blogger Tarek Shalaby. Photo by Hossam El Hamalawy.

Detained blogger Tarek Shalaby. Photo by Hossam El Hamalawy.

Blogger and Twitter user Tarek Shalaby was among those arrested. One of the last tweets Tarek posted before his arrest was:

Shit! We've been ambushed! Army coming from other side. Ran into side street…

A ‘Free Tarek Shalaby‘ page has been set up on Facebook.

The information on the page reads:

Tarek Shalaby was detained by the Egyptian Army last night for protesting in front of the Israeli Embassy in Giza. He was taken along with tens of other people, and we are still trying to find out his whereabouts! Please join this page to help support his release from Military custody in Egypt!!

@mosaaberizing: Protesters running towards Cairo Uni. Tens of ambulance cars carrying injured ones. #IsraeliEmbassy

@mosaaberizing: Protesters running towards Cairo Uni. Tens of ambulance cars carrying injured ones. #IsraeliEmbassy

Twitter user Mosa'ab ElShamy was also arrested. A ‘Free Mosa'ab ElShamy‘ page was set up for him on Facebook, and it reads:

Mosa'ab (@mosaaberizing), young activist who participated in the Jan25 revolution, was also taken last night by security forces at the Israeli embassy in Cairo along with Tarek Shalaby.

Kuwaiti Twitter user Mona Kareem writes a touching tribute in honour of her detained friend and calls for his release in a post entitled ‘Bring My Friend Back':

It hurts me so bad when I think that this 20 year old friend of mine got caught and might face the militant court. Some have already been there, it is inhumane, and some have been sentenced to years in prison for speaking out or for being in a protest. Egypt had a revolution but the army cannot understand that; the army is a machine good in killing, arresting, and punishing. The army does not see youth, hope, dreams, and memories in those men and women they arrest, they do not appreciate their courage giving up what people of their age should live, just to build a better place for the coming generations, who most probably will deal with jan25 as a boring subject, just the way we dealt with our fathers and mothers’ revolutionary memories as boring and superficial.

‘We are all Mahmood Al Sadati’ is a page set up on Facebook for Mahmood, who was also detained during the clashes outside the Israeli Embassy. The page administrator writes [ar]:

اتقبض عليه يوم الأحد 15/5 من الأمن المركزى فى مظاهرات قدام سفارة الصهاينة
إعتصام سلمى اتحول لإشتباك بسبب هجوم الأمن المركزى على المعتصمين
وحولوا الإشتباك لضرب رصاص حى ومطاطى وقنابل مسيلة بصورة مكثفة
وفى الاَخر أوهموا الناس بفض الإشتباك والموافقة على الإعتصام السلمى لغايت ما اتدخلت قوات أمن مركزى مع فرق قوات الصاعقة وهاجموا الشباب مرة واحدة بعد مالناس ما كانت هديت
واعتقلوا ساداتى مع بعض الشباب الاَخر .. سحلوه واعتدوا عليه بوحشية واتسببوله فى إصابات واسعة وجرح كبير فى راسه ورفضوا علاجه أو تخييط الجروح من يوم الحد لغايت دلوقتى رغم الإصابات الكتيرة اللى فى جسمه .. واتعرض لإهانات كبيرة من الجيش والشرطة

يوم الثلاثاء 17/5 خد 15 يوم إستمرار فى السجن الحربى

الحرية لمحمود الساداتى

He was arrested on Sunday, May 15, by the Central Security forces during the protests in front of the Zionist's Embassy. A peaceful sit in turned into clashes because of the Central Security forces attack on the protesters. It then escalated to live and rubber ammunition and intensive firing of tear gas. At the end, they made the people believe that they would end the clashes and allow the peaceful protest to continue until the Central Security forces with the rapid deployment forces attacked the youth after the people calmed down. They arrested Sadaty with some other young men .. they brutally attacked him and caused him serious injuries and a gash on his head, which they refused to treat or stitch, from Sunday until today despite all the wounds all over his body. He was also verbally abused by both the army and the police.

On Tuesday, May 17, he was sentenced to another 15 days in the Military prison

Freedom for Mahmood Al Sadaty

On Facebook, another page calling for the freeing of 17-year-old Omar Hani Farouk Albstawisy has been formed.

His uncle Hesham writes:

أبن أخي
الاسم : عمر هاني فاروق البسطويسي
السن :١٧ سنة
مدرسة: طالب ثالثة ثانوي
MSE
أسباب اعتقاله: كان يسير أمام السفارة على كوبري جامعة القاهرة
يوم 15/5/2011 أثناء المظاهرات
تم التحقيق وحبس جميع المعتقلين الذين تجاوز عددهم ١٥٠ لمدة ١٥ يوما
الحرية لجميع المعتقلين السلميين
رايحة على فين يا مصر
My nephew
Name: Omar Hani Farouk Albstawisy
Age: 17 years
School: 3rd Secondary School student
Reason for arrest: He was walking in front of the embassy on the Cairo University fly over on May 15, 2011, during the protests
Along with 150 people detained, he has been interrogated and will be detained for 15 days
Freedom for all peaceful detainees
Where are we heading to Egypt?

Blogger Rowan El Shimi posts [ar] a testimonial written by video journalist Mohamed Effat, who was with those arrested from in front of the Israeli Embassy. In his harrowing testimonial on how the protesters were arrested, Effat explains:

كان اللي موجودين هناك حوالي 50 أو 60 واحد وكان معانا 2 أصحابنا تانيين (كريم صالح و حسام أسامة ناصف وهما مقبوض عليهم برضه), جرينا كلنا ناحية شارع جانبي بيطلع على الكورنيش, في محاوله للهرب, لقينا في آخر الشارع 4 عساكر جيش قافلين نهاية الشارع, بمجرد ماقربنا ناحيتهم نزلوا بركبهم على الأرض, شدوا أجزاء بنادقهم وابتدوا يصرخوا اللي هيقرب هنضربوا. أقف مكانك منك له. وابتدوا يضربوا نار في الهوا. كنا ساعتها في حالة فزع فوقفنا مكانا, وفي خلال ثواني كان عساكر الجيش قفلوا مدخل الشارع وتمت محاصرتنا.
بدأ ساعتها عساكر وضباط الجيش من الناحيتين بإطلاق النار في الهوا بطريقة لا توصف, كانت كفيله بإرهابنا كلنا واستسلامنا. حاصرونا العساكر على الرصيف, و اجبرونا على النزول على ركبنا ووضع ايدينا على رؤوسنا, وهم موجهين أسلحتهم ناحيتنا, واخرون مستمرين في ضرب النار, ثم جعلونا ننام على بطوننا رؤوسنا في اتجاه الأرض, وايدينا خلف رؤوسنا. مع استمرار توجيه الاسلحة نحو رؤوسنا واطلاق النار في الهواء.
كان بجانبي طفل عمره على ماأظن لا يتعدي ال8 سنين, كان منهار من العياط, والخوف والذعر, أجبروه زينا إنه ينام على بطنه. بعد دقيقتين نقلونا على الرصيف التاني, وفضلنا في نفس الوضعيه, كان اللي بيرفع دماغه من على الأرض كان بيضرب على رأسه ويتهان. وصل بعد كده رجال الشرطة وبدأوا في جرنا واحد ورا التاني, شكلونا في صف واصطحبونا على الكورنيش ناصية السفارة. (ملحوظة: أي تحرك من حتة لحتة كنا بنعمله كان بيبقى زحف على الركب, واللي يقف كان بيضرب ويتشاط لحد مايقع)
We were about 50 to 60 people, and we had our friends with us, Kareem Saleh and Hossam Osama Nasef, who have also been arrested. We all ran towards a side road which led to the Corniche, in our attempt to escape. We found four soldiers at the end of the road and as soon as we got close to them, they got down on their knees, prepared their guns and shouted at us that whoever gets closer would get shot. They ordered us to stop in our places and then started firing shots in the air. At that point, we were petrefied, so we fell to the ground. In seconds, more soldiers came from the entrance of the side street and we were surrounded.

The soldiers and army officers then started shooting in the air from both ends, in a manner which cannot be described. It was enough to terrorise us and make us surrender. The soldiers surrounded us on the sidewalk and forced us to fall on our knees and put our hands on our heads, while some were pointing their guns at us and the others continuing to shoot in the air. They then made us sleep on our stomachs, with our heads to the ground and our hands behind our heads – all while pointing their guns at us and firing shots in the air.

A child, who wasn't older than eight years old, was next to me and he was crying hysterically from fear. They forced him, like us, to sleep on his stomach. After two minutes, they transferred us to the next pavement, and we remained in the same position. Whoever raised his head was hit on his head and verbally insulted. The policemen then came and they started dragging us, one at a time, forming us in a column, and then took us to the Corniche, near the Embassy. (Note: We had to crawl as they moved us from one area to the other and whoever stood u was beaten and kicked, until he fell down.)

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