Resisting Repression

Issue section: 
Issue: 
(273)

Thanks to the many readers of 'Socialist Review' who supported the campaign to free anti-war activists in Egypt (Letters, March SR).

On 7 March, after several weeks of imprisonment and torture, 14 activists were released and have been able to return to their work in the anti-war movement.

Kernal Khalil is one of the leaders of the movement and a founder of the Socialist Centre in Cairo. He says, 'I believe it was the solidarity movement locally and internationally that won our release. When in prison I saw statements of solidarity and hear news of your activities and it made all the difference.

'I knew that we are not alone, we are not just a few thousands in Egypt--we are many millions in the whole world. We are determined to continue our struggle to stop this war. We have to learn from this small victory and take forward the struggle for democracy and for freedom of expression.'

Khalil had been abducted fron the street on his way to work in the style of the 'disappearances' organised by states in Latin America. He was taken to the headquarters of the security police--the notorious Lazoghly torture centre.

Later taken to Tora Prison, south of Cairo, he was reunited with other anti-war activists arrested earlier. They had been in continuous solitary confinement.

'I was luckier than the others,' says Khalil. 'Some had been in the prison for a month and spent days without even blankets. 'But nothing that we suffered compared to the treatment of the Islamists. Some of the Islamist prisoners we met had been in administrative detention for 15 years. Some had been without charge for seven years--even though the maximum period allowed is six months! Some had served their sentences of 15 years and still not been released. It is now our responsibility to develop a movement ofsolidarity with such people.'

The day after Khalil's release he spoke at rallies at the journalists' and lawyers' syndicates, and the following day at a demonstration against emergency laws under which all the activists had been held. He says, 'We know the times are changing and that there's a world to be won.'
Phil Marshall
London