Thursday, January 24, 2013

Qursaya: A story of betrayal and struggle

Thu, 24/01/2013

Al-Masry Al-Youm

"It is important to consider the story of Qursaya as the second anniversary of the revolution approaches. It’s a story of violence and imprisonment, of the powerful targeting the marginalized, of ruling interests trampling over the rule of law, and of an ongoing struggle against a state that regards its poorest citizens as a bothersome nuisance impeding plans for progress......

One of the biggest outrages of the new Constitution is that it allows for cases like the Qursaya military trial to continue. An earlier draft of the constitution contained language that strictly prohibited trying civilians before military courts. Yet assembly members removed this language “after military justice officials formally objected,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Article 198 of the Constitution leaves intact the military’s discretion to try civilians in military courts in a significant step backward for human rights in Egypt. Previous constitutions did not mention military trials of civilians, allowing lawyers to argue that the practice itself was unconstitutional. Now, Article 198 makes referring civilians to military trial constitutionally acceptable.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s capitulation is all the more troubling given their long history of being among the primary victims of military trials during the Hosni Mubarak era. In their ascent from a banned opposition group to political power, an explanation can be found. Those with access to power are not threatened by the most abusive practices of the state, like military trials. It is society’s most marginalized who are always targeted, and the Brotherhood has stepped forcefully out of the margins only to sacrifice those left behind.

A military court is scheduled to hand down a verdict on the Qursaya detainees on 28 January, a date that marks the second anniversary of the “Friday of Anger,” when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in what was arguably the most decisive day yet in Egypt’s revolution. For the people of Qursaya and those who share in their struggle, we need many more like it."

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