Press Release: 2 Women’s human rights defenders physically assaulted during their arrest
On 8 July 2014, woman human rights defender Ms. Nahid Sherif was permitted a visit by her family at the Qanatir’s Women’s Prison, during which she confirmed that she was physically assaulted by police officers during her arrest.
Woman human rights defender Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo) was arrested on 21 June 2014 along with six women human rights defenders and others for protesting peacefully against the Protest and Public Assembly Law. The other six women human rights defenders were Ms. Yara Sallam, Ms. Sanaa Seif, Ms. Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Ms. Salwa Mihriz, Ms. Samar Ibrahim and Ms. Fikreya Mohamed (known as Rania El-Sheikh).
During the visit, Ms. Nahid Sherif confirmed that following the protest on 21 June 2014, she was assaulted by police officers during her arrest. After she was recognized by a police officer while she was standing on a side street in the district of Heliopolis on the same day, she was taken to a police check-point near the Ittihadia Presidential Palace, where she was kicked in the face by a police officer on her nose. The woman human rights defender sustained an acute nose bleed and currently has a horizontal scar on her mid-nose as a result of the assault. She was also slapped several times on her face both in the micro-bus transporting her to the Heliopolis Police Station, and during the prosecution’s investigations with her. The police officer had originally recognized her as she had been arrested in June 2012 after participating in a protest at the High Supreme Court during a sit-in by judges, which had been attacked by both civilians and police forces. Ms. Nahid Sherif consequently served one year and nine months after she was handed down a two year sentence.
Meanwhile, Ms. Nahid Sherif also confirmed that Ms. Fikreya Mohamed was also assaulted on 21 June 2014 on a public bus leaving the district of Heliopolis. Civilians chased down the bus to stop it, beat the driver and then beat Ms. Fikreya Mohamed and dragged her off the bus, handing her over to the police.
Nazra for Feminist Studies denounces the physical assaults that both Fikreya and Nahid have experienced, calls on the authorities to conduct a thorough investigation to identify perpetrators and hold them accountable, and reiterates its call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the women human rights defenders and the other detainees and drop all charges directed at them stemming from the legitimate exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.