Egypt: Release Manar el-Naga from pretrial detention to be with her young child

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

An Egyptian family was abducted from their home in Alexandria by state security forces nearly two years ago, on the 9  March 2019. For twenty-three months, nothing was heard or known of the whereabouts of the family of three: 27-year-old Manar Adel Abu el-Naga and her husband Omar Abdel Hamid Abu el-Naga, and their child, 1-year-old El Bara’a Omar Abdel Hamid Abu el-Naga. Manar el-Naga worked as an assistant lecturer of Mathematics at Tanta University.

On the 20 February 2021, Manar el-Naga re-appeared with her child, now almost three years old, in front of the state security prosecution. She is charged, as is customary for the prosecution over recent years, with joining and funding a terrorist organization (although that organization is not specified) in case no. 970 of 2020. According to the security report, Manar had allegedly been arrested on 17  February 2020, not on 9 March 2019. Changing dates of arrest is another habitual practice of the prosecution and state security, for the purpose of covering up the period of enforced disappearance.

After the interrogation, Manar was taken to Qanater women’s prison to start her pre-trial detention, where she could face months and years of detention without trial and due process. Her detention order can be automatically renewed, ten times for fifteen days and then indefinitely for 45 days. In the meantime, while separated from his mother, her child has become three years old. Children younger than two years can remain in prison with their mother. Observers reported that the child, who now lives with his maternal aunt, was traumatized when he was separated from his mother Manar – crying that he wants to go back to the “room” (the cell) where he had stayed with his mother for those two years.

On 21 February, Manar’s brother posted the following on his personal Facebook page:

“I wonder, are we meant to feel happy about the return of El Bara’a to us after two years of enforced disappearance? Or to feel sad about the situation we are in: a child who does not recognize his family, afraid of them, screaming that he wants to return to the “room,” that he wants his mother. A child who does not respond to normal people after living for two years among people in uniform.

And if we are to feel sad, should we feel sad for the psychological trauma suffered by this child for two years, may God help us in healing him? Or feel sad for his mother, who was threatened by the prosecution to be forcibly disappeared again if she did not say that she was arrested only two days ago (Although we have a court order, from two years ago, demanding the Ministry of Interior disclose her whereabouts?)  Or should we feel sad for the child’s father, who until now has not appeared, who until now we have no information? I need someone to answer me. Our only solace is in God.” (http://tiny.cc/s1iotz)

The undersigned organizations demand the immediate release of Manar el-Naga and the facilitation of her return to her child, in a safe family environment, where both would receive the psychological support and mental healthcare urgently required after the extraordinary trauma of a two-year enforced disappearance. We also demand the disclosure of the whereabouts of the husband and father, Omar el-Naga, of whom nothing is yet known.  We express our utmost fears and concerns for his safety.

Signatory Organizations:

  1. El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture
  2. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
  3. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  4. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  5. Freedom Initiative
  6. Committee for Justice
  7. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  8. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

This post is also available in: العربية

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