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Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent political activist in Egypt, joined thousands of peaceful protesters on Sunday, October 9, 2011 in a march to the Maspiro TV building in Cairo, Egypt. There, the Egyptian Army brutally attacked the protesters, killing at least 28 civilians and injuring at least 300.Protesters were deliberately crushed by Armored Personnel Carriers and killed by gunfire. They were made up of Muslims and Christians protesting the burning of a church in Assyut, Egypt.
Alaa later published an opinion article about the protest in the Egyptian independent newspaper, AI-Shorouk, implicating the army in the deaths of the Maspiro protesters. Soon after, he was summoned for questioning by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and then arrested. Alaa was arrested five years before for his political activities –under Hosni Mubarak.
Writes Alaa from prison: “I am locked up, again pending trial, again on a set of loose and flimsy charges — the one difference is that instead of the state security prosecutor we have the military prosecutor — a change in keeping with the military moment we’re living now.” (The Guardian, November 2, 2011,http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/02/egypt-revolution-back-mubarak-jails)
Under the rule of Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), 12,000 Egyptians were sentenced to military court since last January. During Mubarak’s rule, only 500 Egyptians were sentenced by military court. SCAF has renewed the hated Emergency Law that Egyptians protested during the January 25th Revolution, and heavy-handed censorship has brought upon the arrest of journalists and the storming of the offices of independent news media.
The US Department of State must use its influence on SCAF to release Alaa. Every year, the US government gives $1.3 billion in public money to SCAF, and SCAF must be held accountable for its multiple abuses of the human rights of Egypt.