Whereabouts of Egyptian Public Transport Authority’s Abducted Employees Remain Unknown

The employees of the Egyptian Public Transport Authority who have been arrested ahead of a planned strike earlier this week will file a complaint to the general prosecutor as their relatives’ whereabouts are unknown.

Magdy Hassan Aly -the head of the independent Trade Unions Federation- called the authorities to announce  the detention places of Egypt’s public transport employees and to release them, saying that “the strike has not occurred yet” to arrest them.

He also condemned the general prosecution’s statement which claims that “a terrorist group” was arrested within the Public Transport Authority, stressing that the demands of employees are legal.

He also added that the employees of the Public Transport Authority will not allow their case to be “politicized”, as their demands are legitimate, saying, “The Public Transport Authority employees are straight.”

In the same context, the families of the detained workers called for declaring the whereabouts of their relatives and releasing them, as they are not terrorists and do not belong to any party or organization, stressing that they want them back to their homes.

In addition, Kamal Abbas, the general coordinator of the Trade Unions services, said that the public transport employees do not know until now the charges against them.

Kamal Abbas also said the disappearance of the employees directly contravenes the principles and provisions of Egypt’s constitution,  as those detainees have the right to contact their families within 12 hours of arrest.

According to the constitution, “We filed a complaint to the public prosecutor demanding an urgent investigation into the disappearances, but we haven’t received a reply yet,” Abbas said.

He added, “Whoever talks about the constitution and the rule of law is talking about another country,” he added.

In the same context, Kamal Khalil, an activist, said on his Facebook account that the number of the Public Transport Authority employees, who have been arrested, has reached 9 people.

According to Khalil, no lawyer attended the investigation at the general prosecution as they were abducted, for more than 5 days, and their whereabouts were unknown. He added, “Now they are in Tora prison for false accusations of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Since al-Sisi military coup against the first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian authorities have launched massive crackdown against political opposition, activists and independent unions in fear from another future uprising that would threaten the military regime power.

The main accusation against any opposition regardless of his political belief, being a socialist or secularist, is belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and disturbing public order. For instance, Haytham Mohamadeen -the labor rights lawyer known for his socialist affiliation- was arrested from his home on 22 April 2016, following the call to the protests of 25 April 2016. He has been accused of  “joining a banned group, participating in an illegal protest and plotting the overthrow of the regime.”

Independent labor Unions have been under intense scrutiny by the Egyptian security forces, that returned powerful after the 2013 military coup. Even foreigners interested in labor unions have been put under observation. On the anniversary of January Revolution in 2016, an Italian doctoral student, Giulio Regeni, who had been writing his thesis about independent unions, was found tortured to death.

Giulio Regeni disappeared when security forces were out in the streets of Central Cairo. Police have denied any involvement, but the torture on his body had the signs of the Egyptian security forces. Italy withdrew its ambassador, saying that Egypt was not fully cooperating in the investigation.