Why is the Irish government failing Ibrahim Halawa?

Today at 6pm, a show of solidarity for 20 year old Ibrahim, awaiting trial in Egypt for attending 2013 protests in Egypt while there for the summer with his sisters to visit extended family.

Ibrahim’s treatment has been degrading and dangerous, and his trial is mistrusted by the Irish government, who say their diplomacy has limits.

Ibrahim is an Irish boy, but considered Egyptian there because of his parents nationality. He had just finished his leaving cert. He was meant to go to college. He really wanted to go to Spain with his friends rather than visit family.

Ibrahim is one of 494 protestors detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly.

His trial has been repeatedly delayed. Two Christmases, two Ramadans, two years of family dinners, Ibrahim has been missing from his parents’ dinner table. Ibrahim has instead been in  a notoriously dangerous prison, losing hope. Research carried out by the human rights organisation Reprieve, and quoted by the Irish Times “found Mr Halawa had been subject to torture while in prison, including beatings, denial of medical treatment and solitary confinement.”

There are problems with the trial. He will stand trial with 420 other people in a mass trial. “Charges against the 420 accused, reduced from 494, range from murder and attempted murder during a fatal attack on a police station in Ramses Square in central Cairo to taking part in a nearby banned protest against the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Mr Halawa is charged with the latter offense and with travelling across Cairo to take part in this event.” (Irish Times)

The next hearing will on 15 December. But the case against Ibrahim is unfair. Amnesty report “In the casefile, the prosecutor has failed to provide evidence that Ibrahim had used violence. The prosecutor has also depended entirely on police witnesses and reports, and investigations by intelligence services, which put a question mark over the credibility of evidence used against the defendants. Most of the over 100 witnesses due to be called in the trial are police officers or government officials.”

The human rights issues in this case are important. Doughty Street Chambers, renowned for defending freedom and civil liberties, have taken up this important case. This legal team have also called on the Irish Government “to take urgent action to protect this young Irish citizen and to bring him home to Dublin”.

His family’s religious and political leanings, say the Irish government, make it more difficult for Egypt to let him go. But Ibrahim is an Irish citizen, born in Ireland, educated in Ireland, who protested against military overthrow of a democratic government. If we do not stand for him, who will?

How long will the state stand by while Amnesty and others recognise the problems of his position?

Today’s event

Amnesty page and information sheet

 

 

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