Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression

Attack On Mass Media Students A Major Violation Of Academic Freedom

 

The undersigned human rights organizations strongly condemn the violation by military police of the right of faculty of Mass Media students to peaceful gathering and the violent attack on their protest, as well as the temporary arrest of a number of students and faculty members using different forms of violence including beating male and female students with electric rods which necessitated the transfer of a number of them to the university hospital.

Faculty of Mass Media students had organized yesterday morning a huge demonstration in front of the faculty calling for the resignation of the dean. The demonstration was one of several protest actions organized by the students over the past few days calling for this demand. According to eyewitnesses from AFTE as well as some students and some faculty members, military police forces initially entered campus trying to persuade students to end their protest. When they failed they used force to disperse the students and held some of them in custody together with some faculty members in their military tanks.

The undersigned human rights organizations recognize Egyptian students as part of the 25th January revolution led by different sectors of Egyptian society seeking freedom and dismantling of the oppressive authority which for decades has deprived university students from freedom of expression as well as participation in decision making regarding academic life which shapes their future. Any oppression of the right of students to freely organize their protests on campus is an aggression against the main principles established by the revolution.

On the other hand, the undersigned human rights organizations stresses the illegitimacy of the presence of any military forces on camps in view of its violation of student and academic freedom and rights according to comment (13) of the international covenant for social, economic and cultural rights, of which Egypt is party.  The non commitment to that principles is contrary to the declaration b the military council that it will honor international conventions and treaties, which Egypt has endorsed.

The undersigned human rights organizations also note that the use of violence to address protests brings back the days of university security guards and the control by state security of the different aspects of academic life. The situation becomes worse when the military police, a sector of the army, exercises excessive force against the students, thereby violating all international principles that grant freedom of expression, and the rights to demonstration and protest. It also constitutes a violation of dozens of court rulings that have supported freedom of student activities and freedom of expression as well as the illegality of security presence on campus.

Finally, the undersigned human rights organizations reject the proposed draft law issued by the cabinet yesterday, 22nd of March, to be presented to the military council for endorsement and which criminalizes protests, strikes and sit-ins in view of its support of the oppressive legislative structure by adding a new oppressive legislation in violation of all rights and freedoms granted by international agreements endorsed by Egypt. This applies even in the status quo where the constitution is frozen, since citizens draw their rights and freedom on the basis of their citizenship irrespective of the constitution.

Signatories (in alphabetical order)

Arabic network for human rights information

Association for freedom of thought and expression

Cairo institute for human rights studies

Egyptian association for enhancement of community participation

Egyptian center for economic and social rights

Egyptian initiative for personal rights

El Nadim center for rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture

Hisham Mubarak law center

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