On Friday, Amnesty International appealed to the Egyptian authorities to release hundreds of protesters who were arrested during anti-government demonstrations last September.
Hundreds of people organized anti-government demonstrations in some Egyptian villages and neighborhoods, coinciding with calls for demonstrations today in Cairo’s Tahrir Square under the slogan “The Second Friday of Anger.”
The demonstrations erupted during the past two weeks in some Egyptian governorates, during which a man was killed in clashes with police south of Cairo, after recent government decisions to impose fines on buildings constructed without official permits sparked a widespread wave of anger in light of the deteriorating standards of living.
The Egyptian artist and contractor, residing in Europe, Muhammad Ali, called for these demonstrations, while Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi warned – last Sunday – of the repercussions of political and security instability, considering that there are those who want to “destroy countries.”
“The fact that these demonstrators took to the streets with their awareness of the grave danger to their lives and security as a result of this act illustrated the extent to which they need to demand their economic and social rights,” wrote Philip Luther, the Middle East and North Africa official at Amnesty International, in a statement.
“We call on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all detainees just because they exercised their right to free expression and peaceful assembly,” Luther said.
About 500 people are still being held, according to Amnesty International, which confirms that two people were killed during the demonstrations, and is calling for an investigation into the circumstances of their deaths.
And the Egyptian Public Prosecution announced – last Sunday – the release of 68 minors (under the age of 18) who were arrested during the demonstrations.
These demonstrations are rare in Egypt, where the authorities placed “crippling” restrictions on demonstrations and launched a crackdown on all opposition groups, according to international human rights defense organizations.