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Egyptian authorities abduct former child prisoner activist, mother of a two-year-old child Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Egyptian authorities abduct former child prisoner activist, mother of a two-year-old child

Marwa Arafa had formerly campained for the rights of child prisoners [Facebook]

Date of publication: 23 April, 2020

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Marwa had abandoned her past as a political activist a 'long time ago', according to her husband, but she has still been detained by the Egyptian regime.

Egyptian authorities have abducted a prominent former activist, known for advocating for the rights of child prisoners, after storming her property in Cairo's Nasr City district at 1am on Tuesday, confiscating money and valuables.

Her husband, the writer and researcher Tamer Muwafi, describes having no information on her whereabouts from authorities, or given any reasons for her arrest, according to posts made to his Facebook account.

Marwa gave up political activism a "long time ago", her husband added, who said her only real preoccupation was raising their two-year-old daughter, Wafa. 

In his most recent post, he describes his concerns that his wife has no access to medication for a number of health complications. 

The whereabouts of 27-year-old Marwa Araf is currently unknown, according to her lawyer Mukhtar Munir, who spoke to local media.

Close family and friends have expressed their shock at the arbitrary arrest, which comes amid accusations of a new wave of arrests by the Egyptian regime.

Rather than prompting authorities to release thousands of detainees - to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 in the country’s notoriously overcrowded and unsanitary prisons – the global spotlight on the disease has provided Egyptian authorities with a cover to carry arbitrary arrests, one friend writes.

Read more: Middle East regimes are freeing inmates as coronavirus spreads. But political prisoners remain behind bars

According to MEMO, Marwa worked as the coordinator for Free the Children, a charity committed to advocating for the rights of minors arrested in anti-government protests and was a vocal campaigner for the plight of prisoners.

In 2015, Marwa joined other detainees, including human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah in carrying out open-ended hunger strikes to pressure the Egyptian government to repeal a law against protests and demand the release of prisoners.

As her family and friends anxiously await news of her fate, Egypt's prisons have been sealed off from visitors, lawyers and almost all communication with the outside world since 10 March.

Last week, Alaa Abdel Fattah launched a hunger strike against the conditions he has endured at the notorious Tora prison, where he has been kept under maximum security in pre-trial detention since September 2019, following a wave of arrest of anti-government protesters.

Since 2015, activists have noted a spike in secret government detentions carried out in Egypt, with authorities keeping silent for days or weeks. Relatives of the detainees are only told about their whereabout when they are bought in for questioning in front of prosecutors.

Enforced disappearances are a commonplace tactic deployed by security agencies operating under the auspices President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, whose repressive rule has seen an unprecedented crackdown on all forms of dissent, including the torture and jailing of thousands.

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