Egypt Executes 15 Political Prisoners in New Crackdown
Story Code : 890453
According to We Record, an organization tracking and documenting the death penalty in Egypt, authorities executed on Saturday 15 detainees who had been in custody since 2014, in three cases the organization described as “political”, the Middle East Eye reported.
A spokesperson for the group said that the executions were "unlawful" since most of the detainees had been subjected to enforced disappearance and torture prior to their conviction.
Two detainees, Yasser Abasiri and Yasser Shakr, were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, from the coastal city of Alexandria.
They had been arrested after organizing protests against the 2013 military coup that brought President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to power, the spokesman said.
Egypt’s late President Mohamed Morsi, a senior Brotherhood member, was ousted from power by his defense minister Sisi in July 2013. Sisi has been president since 2014.
According to Ahmed el-Attar, a London-based human rights researcher, most of those who were executed on Saturday had been detained in the maximum-security Scorpion Prison, where hundreds of political prisoners are held.
On September 23, three policemen and four detainees on death row were killed in a botched prison break from Scorpion Prison, according to the interior ministry.
Attar argued that the timing of the executions may be linked to the incident, since those who were hanged were possible witnesses to what happened.
With Saturday's executions, Attar said the number of political prisoners executed since Sisi came to power had reached 79, with 25 of them hanged in 2020.
A hashtag launched on social media by Egyptian opposition activists to condemn the executions was among the top trending in Egypt on Monday.
Abdullah el-Sharif, an Egyptian social media influencer, suggested that the executions were a response to the sporadic anti-government protests held since September 20.
“Write about the executions massacre, about the hostages detained in the junta’s prisons, and about their treatment of Egyptians with the punishment logic in the aftermath of any uprising,” he wrote on Twitter.
According to Haitham Abu Khalil, an Egyptian human rights activist based in Turkey, eight more prisoners were hanged on Saturday in “criminal cases”.
“Can you imagine what happened on bloody Saturday?” he wrote on Facebook.
“(Egyptian authorities) were keen on executing 23 people on the same day to deliver two messages. 1. Terrorising the Egyptian street after an unsuccessful Friday of Rage, 2. Responding to the death of four policemen in Scorpion Prison.”
Egyptian courts issued at least 435 death sentences last year, compared to a record 717 in 2018, Amnesty said.