On June 23, woman human rights defender (WHRD) Sana Seif was kidnapped and forced into a minibus, while on her way with her sister WHRD Mona Seif and mother Dr. Laila Soueif towards the Public Prosecution Office’s gate. Sanaa Seif and her family had gone there in order to submit a complaint to the Public Prosecutor after they were assaulted the night before by a group of women in front of Tora prison, in plain view of the security officers. Two hours after the abduction, Sanaa Seif appeared before the State Security Prosecution, who charged her with , “inciting terrorist crimes”, ‘disseminating false news” and “misuse of social media.” The Public Prosecution also considered that Sanaa Saif was part of a foreign scheme that threatened national security, according to the statement they issued on 23 June.
It is not the first time that WHRD Sana Seif has been targeted. On May 14, 2016, Sanaa Saif surrendered to the authorities to implement a six-month prison sentence for insulting a public official. Sanaa Saif was then held in the women’s prison in Al-Qanater in Cairo, and she was not allowed family visits for a month. In separate proceedings, on April 27, 2016, she was summoned to the South Cairo Prosecution for a hearing on charges of conspiring to overthrow the regime and distributing leaflets calling for protests.
During the past two days, WHRDs Sanaa and Mona Seif and Dr. Laila Soueif present in front of Tora prison, waiting to receive a message from human rights defender Alaa Abdel-Fattah, whom they have been unable to visit since the beginning of March 2020, due to the ban on prison visits under the pretext of preventing the spread of covid-19 in prisons. Alaa Abdel Fattah’s family received the last message from him about three weeks ago, and the prison administration did not deliver it to them except after similar pressure from his mother and two sisters as they were sitting for several days at that time in front of Tora prison.
The targeting of the family started since March 18, when Mona Seif and Dr. Laila Soueif and Dr. Ahdaf Soueif and Dr.Rabab al-Mahdi organized a small protest outside the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, calling for the release of prisoners as part of the state’s efforts to combat the spread of covid-19. They were arrested and taken to the Nile Police Station. They were released the next day on bail of five thousand pounds and charged with calling for an unlawful protest to prevent traffic and spread news and rumors in order to spread panic.
The WHRDMENA Coalition expresses grave concern over the abduction and imprisonment of woman human rights defender Sanaa Seif, and urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure her physical and psychological integrity in all circumstances, and to release her and Alaa Abdel Fattah immediately and unconditionally. The Regional Coalition also condemns the attack on WHRDs Sanaa Seif, Mona Seif and Dr. Laila Soueif. The Coalition considers sees this violence as an act of punishment for their legitimate right to know and become certain of Alaa Abdel Fattah’s safety and wellbeing. It is worth mentioning that Alaa Abdel-Fattah, in turn, has been in custody pending investigations for eight months, and this leads us to fear that the same fate will be repeated in the case of Sanaa Seif now, with the aim of targeting the entire family and silencing them.
The constant attacks against Alaa Abdel Fattah’s family and WHRDs confirms that the Egyptian authorities remain committed to their repressive policy towards human rights defenders, as they continue to commit human rights violations and detain dozens of women human rights defenders and renew their detention without any deterrent. The Regional Coalition calls for:
- Ensuring the physical and psychological integrity of Sanaa Seif, Mona Seif and Dr. Laila Soueif in all circumstances;
- The immediate and unconditional release of WHRD Sana Seif and the end of her arbitrary detention;
- Ensure that Sanaa Seif and Alaa Abdel-Fattah have immediate, unobstructed access to their family members and a lawyer of their choice;
- Conducting a transparent, impartial, immediate, and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of the defender Sana Seif and the beating suffered by Sana, Mona Saif and Dr. Laila Soueif.
- End all forms of judicial and legal harassment against Sana, Mona Seif and Dr. Laila Souef.