Egypt arrests 270 protesters amid Red Sea Islands controversy

Published April 26th, 2016 - 06:35 GMT
Egyptian police in front of the police academy during the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak. (AFP/File)
Egyptian police in front of the police academy during the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak. (AFP/File)

Egypt's police arrested 270 protesters on Monday amid protests held in opposition to the sovereign transfer of the two Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, a security source said.

Several political forces and public figures called for protests on Apr. 25, which coincided with Sinai Liberation Day, against the agreement which was signed earlier this month between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Police dispersed various protests in Greater Cairo using teargas and birdshots.

The press syndicate said yesterday that up to 12 journalists were detained, while some others were assaulted by security forces. The syndicate was also subjected to storming attempts by "thugs" allegedly hired by the interior ministry, according to the syndicate's statement.

The Giza Security Directorate arrested 120 protesters in Messaha Sqaure, Bulaq, Nahia and Faisal and arrested some of them from nearby cafes, the security source said.

Meanwhile, 150 protesters were arrested from various spots in Cairo and are being examined in central security camps, the source added.

Lawyers affiliated with the Front of Defence for Egyptian Protesters announced they were heading to the aforementioned camp after news that the prosecution will conduct its investigation there.

In its latest statement, the Front documented at least 238 arrests on Monday across Egypt's provinces which were mostly in Cairo and Giza. These included foreign nationals, activists and journalists.

The security source said most protesters will be released but the rest will be referred to the prosecution after conducting a criminal background check.

Amnesty International said in a statement on Tuesday that security forces "arbitrarily arrested hundreds of people in response to planned protests in Egypt."

"The Egyptian authorities appear to have orchestrated a heavy-handed and ruthlessly efficient campaign to squash this protest before it even began," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's interim Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

"Mass arrests, road blocks and huge deployments of security forces made it impossible for peaceful demonstrations to take place," Mughrabi added.

Local rights groups reported that over 90 people across eight provinces have been arrested over the four days preceding Monday.

An Egyptian research programme known as Demo Meter documented 23 protests across ten Egyptian provinces. The programme is a statistical observatory that monitors and documents protests and human rights violations. It was launched by a group of Egyptian journalists and researchers in 2010.

In a press release on Tuesday, Demo Meter said that around 300 individuals were arrested amid "preemptive arrest campaigns". Security forces also arrested over 50 journalists and media workers, the organization added.

Egypt's interior ministry tightened security measures on trains and buses and in metro stations on Sunday ahead of planned protests and threatened to respond with "utmost firmness" to any action that disturbs public security.


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