Kristin Jankowski: Basem Fathy says: “Fayza Abou El Naga should be in front of the court”

Posted on September 12, 2012 by

At the 17th of December 2011 egyptian security forces have raided  17 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). They were accused by military rulers of destabilising the security in the country by fomenting protests with the help of funding from abroad. The case is not closed yet.

In an interview with Kristin Jankowski the political activist Basem Fathy speaks about his experience during the raid in the office of the American Organization Freedom House, a hot cage and the democratization Process in the Post-Mubarak time.

Kristin Jankowski:  You have been in the office of the Freedom House during the raid. How do you remember that day ?

Basem Fathy:  We didn’t do anything. We were just working and suddenly we found a lot of policemen, some of them were armed and some not. It was violently in the beginning. They pushed the door and they pushed the office-boy to got in. But then they were more gently and they told us, we are not allowed to make phone calls or to move. And that they had a permission of a persecutor to confisticate  our stuff and to search  our office.  They took our mobile phones and they switched it off. They stayed in the office for six or seven hours. I was really scared.  I have been detained three times before that happened. I knew it will be a part of a very different case and they are going to stigmatize us and they will say we are agents. We got our lawyers in. And an American representative came to our office to check  the American citizens. In the end of the day we got out and our office got sieged and we were free. But at that point we had no idea what is going to happen.

Kristin Jankowski: What happened after the crackdown ?

Basem Fathy: I went home and  I followed the news about the case. Our office was closed. But later they gave us the permission to open the office again. In February the big surprise came: The whole case was in front of the criminal court. And at that point the story changed. As a I said, I got detained three times earlier, spend days in the prison. It was something like detention. But at that point it was new for me. It is a big case. It is criminal. And it might be an issue of the Intelligence. The sentence here might be very heavy. Five years in the prison. And in the same time it is the defamation also.  Starting from raiding the office. There was a big campaign of defamation and stigmatization of those who are working for our organization. And it was the heaviest thing for me.

Kristin Jankowski:  Why is the Freedom House accused of getting illegal fund ?

Basem Fathy: It seems that they want to turn it into a case of the Intelligence. A spy-case.  But it seems as well that their evidences didn’t help them to show that we are agents. That is why they are accusing us of working without no license and getting illegal fund. But they allowed the foreigners to leave Egypt. The head of the court asked the judge to allow them to travel. It became a big scandal. Before that the judge left the case to another judge and he  allowed the foreigners to leave. Only one American, Robert Baker, who worked for the NDI (National Democratic Institute) refused to leave. He knows that he did nothing bad and he wants to proof that. And he feels his responsibility towards his Egyptian colleagues. And when they left I was worried. There is no international pressure anymore. They might give us a heavy sentence in order to justify in front of the public. And there was a controversy. I had an opposite feeling . I thought they won’t send us to jail after that big scandal. The problem is, the whole case is not legal. And the judiciary is not independent.

Kristin Jankowski: What do you think is behind the case ?

Basem Fathy: I don’t know. I just have my theories. I think the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) was trapped. And they wanted to find a justification for the massacres they did. They wanted to tell the public and the media that we are the people who are behind it. They were always talking about the so called “Third Party”, who is sparking everything. And they wanted to justify it. To say, they are not responsible. It must be foreign hands. They were trapped internationally also. Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of the United States, had to give a testimony that SCAF is doing well with the democratic transition. In order the congress will allow the military aid to pass. After the violations the SCAF did during the revolution, the congress changed the law in order that they have to give a testimony by Hillary Clinton. It seems it was the only way to pressure the congress of the United States in order to pass the annual military aid. The loan of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) is another issue. They offered a loan in the beginning of the revolution but then it got refused again. And the economical situation in Egypt got bad so they needed the loan. But they wanted to pressure the Americans. So they have caught the US-citizens to pressure them. I am not sure, but I heard, Tantawi told Obama that they could find something to allow them to leave the country but in the same time he should find a way to get the loan from the IMF for Egypt. It is about economic aid. And we think it was the idea of Fayza Abou El Naga, the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation. I guess also they have also realized what role the civil-societies have played in the last ten years in terms of raising awareness about democracy and human rights among the egyptians.

Kristin Jankowski:  The case is getting postponed and postponed. Why do you think is that happening ?

Basem Fathy:  That is normal here in Egypt. We have to go to the court every two or three months. And we have to be inside a cage. For about six hours. And these cages are not suitable. Even not for the criminals. And even the innocent people have to go in the cage and then they get treated like criminals. It is a very small cage and we are 14 people in total. And sometimes there are more cases at the same day. So we are more people in the same cage. There are no fans, it is very warm. And it is closed. We have to play a lot of games with the guards to go to the toilet.  And it seems that they want to make it without any public pressure. In Egypt it is very easy to kick the case away and the public is forgetting about it. It was very strange a couple of days ago, when we went to the court again, that almost nobody was asking us about it. Months ago it was covered by the media. A lot of people don’t know that the case is not finished yet.

Kristin Jankowski: If it would be in your hands who would you put in front of the court these days ?

Basem Fathy: Fayza Abou El Naga. Everybody knows she is corrupted. She made a lot of benefits from the international aid. And she is the one who is banning the money for democracy and human rights. And she was lying in front of the court and she said a lot of accusations which are not true.  Our lawyers asked her in the end about her evidences and she said , it was a political strategic analysis  or something like that. And for sure the police officers who killed the protesters. There are a lot of evidences that police officers killed and tortured demonstrators during the uprising.  And they should be sent to the prison.

Kristin Jankowski: How far do you think is Egypt in terms of Democratization and Transformation ?

Basem Fathy:  It is not as bad as we were expecting six months ago. It got really threatened by autocracy of the Muslim Brotherhood.  Few months before the presidential elections it seemed, we were getting back to the old track. But it was a good step for the revolution that Mohamed Morsi defeated Ahmed Shafik, who was a remnant of the old regime. I hate the Brotherhood to the max. In the end of the day we had to finish the criminals of the NDP (National Democratic Party).  And  the 12th of August, when Morsi discharged Fieldmarshall Mohmed Tantawi and Sami Annan was another win for the revolution. It is our job right now to develop our capacities and abilities to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood on the long run.