While the so-called as ‘national dialogue’ kicks off, Egyptian authorities re-arrest young activist Aya Kamal El-Din from her home in Alexandria, for the third time since 2013.
According to Egyptian lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, Aya Kamal el-Din was detained from her home in Alexandria on Sunday and appeared at a Cairo police station days later.
In fact, this calls into question the credibility of the government’s newly launched “national dialogue” political initiative.
Aya Kamal el-Din was initially arrested in 2013 among a group known as “The girls of seven in the morning” and give a seven-year suspended jail sentence for participating in a protest in support of Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt who was ousted in a military coup.
She was arrested again in 2020 following a Facebook post criticising the military for its handling of personal protective equipment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Egyptian lawyer Mahienour El-Massry confirmed that el-Din was arrested for a third time on Sunday from her home in Alexandria.
“Aya was released from prison about a year and a half ago due to her deteriorating health condition. She suffers from severe asthma,” Massry said on Twitter.
Since Sisi ousted Morsi in a military coup in 2013, more than 60,000 political detainees have been imprisoned across Egypt, including former MPs, journalists and activists.
Reacting to the detainment of Kamal el-Din, Egyptian journalist Rasha Azab tweeted: “Arrests continue before the planned national dialogue.”
Another Egyptian social media user sarcastically tweeted that Kamal el-Din’s re-arrest was “clearing the way for the national dialogue”.
The new initiative is being coordinated by Diaa Rashwan, head of the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate, and will include some opposition parties and youth groups.
Critics have dismissed the dialogue as an attempt to mitigate western criticism of Egypt’s human rights record, with little detail about what tangible steps would be taken to end political repression.
Kamal El-Din’s arrest followed news that three detainees in Egypt’s prisons had died in since 1 July, highlighting the harsh conditions inside the country’s detention centers, according to advocacy organization Committee for Justice (CFJ) on Tuesday.
Aya Kamal El-Din, 25, was among 14 girls sentenced to 11 years in prison by the Alexandria Misdemeanour Court for participating in a demonstration in support of the late President Mohamed Morsi, following his dismissal by the army nine years ago, where the girls faced accusations of “gathering, blocking the road, and disturbing security before the students went to school early in the morning.”
Aya had been caring for the medical services at a charity. However, she was again arrested on 25 March 2020 for a Facebook post criticizing the way the government is deal with the coronavirus outbreak. She was then held in solitary confinement in the Alexandria Security Directorate, and was denied blankets, medical treatment and visits.