afrol News, 24 March - Egyptian activists are enraged by continued double standards by the judiciary, as strikers and protesters are still sent to military tribunals while an ex-Minister ordering the shooting of protesters is not.
Ex-President Hosni Mubarak's Interior Minister General Habib el-Adly, accused of ordering the killing of at least 360 protesters during the uprising, is to stand trial in a civilian court, it was learnt in Egypt yesterday. Many hailed the news that the ex-Minister finally was to face trial over his deadly orders.
According to the Egyptian Prosecutor-General, ex-Minister el-Adly was believed to be responsible for "the premeditated and deliberate killing of some protesters" during the February uprising.
Earlier this month, four leaders of different Egyptian security forces were detained and accused of having ordered the shooting of civilian protesters. The ex-Minister is accused of withdrawing police forces from the streets, allowing other security forces to start the massacre.
But not everybody is hailing the upcoming trial against ex-Minister el-Adly - or at least not his privileges regarding the trial he will face. The case against Mr el-Adly will be held in a civilian court, allowing the ex-Minister a proper team of defence lawyers.
That is not the case with ordinary Egyptians participating in the continuous protest and strike actions against the ruling military junta. Many activists are still pushing for true democratic reforms, holding that the ruling junta is only preparing for cosmetic changes to a still repressive system in Egypt.
Since the ousting of President Mubarak, the military junta has tried to ban any further protests and strikes, calling for national unity and a return to order while the democratic transition is prepared. But activists keep complaining about the lack of popular participation in this transition process and want to keep up the momentum by further mass action.
In the process, many protesting activists and striking workers have been arrested by Egypt's armed forces. The army claims most of the arrested were doing damage to public property, but this is denied by protesters in most cases.
The detained protesters are no facing non-transparent cases against them in military tribunals, which will give them limited access to defence lawyers and limited human rights. This refers them to a treatment that continues the 30-year practice under emergency laws, which still have not been lifted in Egypt.
"We are against referring civilians to military trials, be they thugs or revolutionaries, as we consider it a derogation from the civilian rights that the revolution succeeded in reclaiming," the Egyptian protest movement said in a statement already on 13 March. Especially in the democratic transition process, they said, it was important that "all citizens should have the right to freedom of expression by demonstration.”
The Egyptian ruling junta however is unimpressed by the outrage against the different treatment in the judiciary. Indeed, the cabinet this week presented a law that would, if approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, criminalise all forms of protests and political strikes. All participating in further protests then could be arrested.
The new proposed law, presented as a decree, has caused even further rage by pro-democracy, human rights and labour activists. According to the independent Centre for Trade Union and Workers' Services, the proposed decree is a "grave and disturbing development" towards again violating basic human rights of Egyptians.
Among many protesters that held central Cairo's Tahrir Sqaure in firm hands of the revolution during the February events, there are now calls for new mass protests against the new cabinet, calling it even more repressive than the Mubarak regime.
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