In a letter written secretly in his prison cell and smuggled out of jail by his pregnant wife, Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah accuses the country’s military rulers of hijacking the revolution.
“I never expected to repeat the experience of five years ago: after a revolution that deposed the tyrant, I go back to his jails?” Abdel Fattah wrote in the letter, which was published in English in the Guardian today.
Abdel Fattah was jailed for 15 days after refusing to be interrogated by a military court Saturday. He is accused of “inciting violence against the military” and “destruction of public property” during the Oct. 9 clashes between Coptic Christians and the military.
The letter, the Guardian writes, “is likely to intensify the growing divisions between Egypt's increasingly repressive army junta and pro-change activists on the street.”
Abdel Fattah seems to want to do just that, directly accusing in the letter the country's military rulers, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), of murder.
His claim that the military was involved in the bloodshed of the Oct. 9 clashes has support from a number of eyewitness reports and video footage, which appear to show military vehicles mowing down civilians and shooting them to death. At least 23 people were killed and nearly 200 were wounded in the violence that day.
SCAF, however, has blamed Christians and “hidden hands” for the violence and staunchly denied it intentionally killed protesters.
Abdel Fattah is one of many Egyptians who are upset with the slow transition the military has made from the regime of Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from power in February. Their frustrations include the failure to get rid of the 30-year-old emergency law, and the rising number of military trials in the country, in which civilians say they are denied counsel and have limited avenues of appeal. At least 12,000 Egyptian civilians have been subjected to military trials since February.
Abdel Fattah declined to answer the prosecutor’s questions Saturday because he said it would not ensure a fair trial.
In what may be a response to the outcry over Abdel Fattah’s jailing, SCAF announced on their Facebook page that it would pardon 334 people convicted in military courts.
But the activist, who has been a vocal and unrelenting campaigner against military trials, seemed hopeless in the letter, especially in the final lines, in which he quotes another prisoner who says:
I swear by God if this revolution doesn't do something radical about injustice it will sink without a trace.