Home | Press Releases    Tuesday 12 September 2017

Amnesty calls to release Nubian activists detained over protest for cultural rights




12 September 2017

Egypt: Release 24 Nubian activists detained after protest calling for respect of their cultural rights

Egyptian authorities should immediately release 24 Nubian activists arrested after the police violently dispersed their peaceful protest in Aswan governorate on 3 September, Amnesty International said today. The detained activists, who had been protesting in support of the Nubian Indigenous people’s cultural rights and to call for their return to their homelands in the south of Egypt, are due to appear in court tomorrow, 13 September.

Successive Egyptian governments have forcibly displaced Nubians from their traditional lands for development projects, posing a threat to the preservation of their cultural, historical and linguistic identity. In the aftermath of the 2011 uprising, Nubian activists grew more organized and vocal in articulating their demands. Their lobbying resulted in a new provision in the 2014 Egyptian constitution that recognizes their right to return.

“Egyptian authorities have long since marginalized Nubians, ignoring their demands to return to their historical lands and treating Nubian activism as suspicious on security grounds,” said Najia Bounaim Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

“Instead of flagrantly flouting Nubians’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly by continuing to detain them over their peaceful protest, the authorities must release these 24 activists from custody immediately.”

Activists from the Nubian community in Aswan called for a protest under the slogan of “the Nubian Assembly Day” on 3 September. The group sang Nubian songs during the protest and called for the implementation of the right to return to their historical lands, following waves of internal displacement between 1912 and 1964. Protesters also called on the authorities to repeal a presidential decree (number 444 of 2014) that classified 16 villages on traditional Nubian lands as military zones and prohibited residents from living there.

Protesters had just gathered and marched 500 meters in al-Guzzayra square in downtown Aswan when security forces surrounded them, beating male and female participants. Police arrested 24 of the men and took them to al-Shalal Security Forces camp in Aswan. They were not allowed access to their families or lawyers. The day after their arrest, prosecutors arrived at the camp and interrogated the men in the absence of their lawyers. Prosecutors ordered their detention for four days on charges of “participating in an unauthorized protest” and “possessing publications harmful to national unity and public safety”, the latter in reference to flyers and banners the activists had carried.

A judge was due to review the detention order on 6 September, but the police failed to bring the 24 activists to the court and the session was adjourned to 13 September. In protest at the postponement, the detainees announced a hunger strike from 6 to 9 September. On 7 September the detainees were prevented from receiving visits from family members and lawyers.

Nubian activist Ayat Osman told Amnesty International that her parents, along with other families of detainees, had managed to obtain a permit from prosecutors to visit their detained relatives. On 7 September, when they arrived at the detention facility, to visit her brother, however, a police officer refused to allow them to visit him and ordered them to leave.

This is not the first time security forces have dispersed peaceful gatherings of Nubian activists. On 19 November 2016, police stopped a peaceful march in support of the community’s human rights and encircled protesters for several hours without food or water until they were forced to leave.

The displacement of Nubians has had huge socioeconomic consequences for the community. It has meant they are often no longer able to work in agriculture as they were forcibly moved from their old villages on the banks of Nile River to desert areas that lacked the necessary water and fertile soil.

The Egyptian Ministry of Education has also not allowed schools in the far south of Egypt to teach the Nubian language despite the demands of Nubian residents. Nubian rights activist Fatma Emam told Amnesty International that the forced assimilation of Nubians in Arabic speaking communities has prevented the community from effectively maintaining the language.

The 2014 Egyptian constitution recognizes the Nubian Indigenous people’s “right to return” to their original lands. Article 236 obliges the government to design an economic development plan for marginalized border areas, including Nuba near Egypt‘s southern borders. The provision also obliges the government to carry out projects to facilitate the return of Nubians to their original lands and their development.

“For years, the authorities have dispossessed Nubians, displacing them from their historical lands and interfering with their enjoyment of their cultural rights. These practices and the continued reluctance of Egypt’s authorities to allow Nubians to return to their lands are contrary to the country’s own constitution as well as its international obligations,” said Najia Bounaim Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director.

Public Document


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Sara Hashash, MENA Media Manager in London on sara.hashash@amnesty.org or call +44 207 413 5511

or contact Amnesty International’s press office on +44 20 7413 5566 or +44 (0)77 7847 2126

email: press@amnesty.org twitter: @amnestypress

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

Comment on this article

The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.

Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis

Darfur ethnic attacks must be fully addressed 2021-05-06 04:16:34 Ahmed Elzobier A series of blunders have contributed to the tragic situation in Sudan’s West Darfur region and continue to expose civilians to violence, notably among them the premature (...)

Give credit they deserve 2021-04-30 21:13:25 Ngor Arol Garang While the visit of the government delegation to Chad had triggered debates and depictions in social media reflective of a comic dramatic work using buffoonery and horseplay and (...)

South Sudan elections must be held on time 2021-04-18 07:30:37 The Government is bent on postponing the elections: a response to the statement of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs dated 14 April 2021. By Lam Akol The Press Secretary of the President of (...)


Latest Press Releases

S. Korea supports UN communities building resilience project in Sudan’s Blue Nile 2019-09-09 09:26:41 UNDP Sudan September 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An agreement was signed on 5th of September between the Korean Ambassador, His Excellency. Lee Ki-Seong and Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident (...)

Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


Copyright © 2003-2021 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.