Detained activist and blogger Ahmed Douma wrote a letter recently from prison, which the Al-Dostour Party published amidst its ongoing social media campaign supporting political detainees.
Like fellow imprisoned activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, Douma has been targeted by different Egyptian regimes, including the post-Mubarak era, due to his being one of the “revolutionary icons” of the 25 January Revolution.
“As I was writing this letter, I cannot keep myself from wondering what punishment prison authorities would apply on me, since sending letters from prison has become more dangerous than drug smuggling these days,” Douma wrote from Tora Prison.
Douma made a comparison between the “old 30 June vs. new 30 June”, having been imprisoned before the revolution that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood for “insulting” former president Mohamed Morsi and incitement to break in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau.
“And here I am in prison, after two regimes, two presidents are gone. The old 30 June made me a hero in the eyes of the public, the media and politicians who were supporting the anti-Muslim Brotherhood movement,” Douma wrote. “Yet the new 30 June insists on holding me and my colleagues captive, only this time our names are not to be mentioned, and the previous support turned into distrust and accusations of sabotage and betrayal.”
Douma added that at first, 30 June was made possible by the struggle and protests of young men and women, marches and social media campaigns aiming to take down the regime. “But the new 30 June criminalised protesting,” he said.
Another difference Douma spots is that, what immediately followed the 30 June revolution was a new constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression and speech. The “new 30 June”, however, abolished journalists’ opinions and put them in jail.
Douma’s main point was to highlight the changing path of 30 June, including economic decisions refuted by Egyptians when they were taken by Morsi, yet strongly endorsed when taken by the current regime, “despite their negative influence over the long run”.
According to the political activist, member of 6 April Youth Movement, the same applies to the media, the use of religious speech against opponents, censorship of art, concluding that “the old 30 June was a dream, the new one turned into a nightmare”.
According to Douma’s wife, also a political activist, the title of this article was changed to “30 June that used to be”. It was originally supposed to be published on the 30 June anniversary, which preceded Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat’s assassination, under the title “I am not waiting to be freed anymore”.
On the occasion, Douma and other activists were mentioned by Amnesty International (AI). Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at AI, said: “Two years after the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi, mass protests have been replaced by mass arrests.”
Douma’s trials were among the most controversial on the post-revolution political scene. A controversial court decision sentenced Douma to life imprisonment and a fine of EGP 17m following the cabinet clashes and burning of the Institut d’Egypte incidents in 2011.
The trial, presided over by notorious judge Nagy Shehata, was characterised by intense conflicts between the judicial panel and defence lawyers. There were accusations of bias to the judge, including Douma himself, who insinuated the judge was taking orders from above to prosecute the defendants.
Douma received another sentence of three years imprisonment for the comments, as the defence team made of human rights lawyers, and led by prominent lawyer Khaled Ali, withdrew from the trial in objection to “intransigence”.
Douma’s health deteriorated in prison, his medical treatment has been neglected. His wife has reported several times via her Facebook account on the obstacles the family face during visiting him, including the prevention of the entry of food.