Egyptian strikers face torture

March 15, 2012

Workers on strike at a company near Egypt's Suez Canal were arrested and tortured and now face trial by military tribunal for nothing more than exercising their basic rights as workers. The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions has issued the following statement in solidarity with the latest victims of the regime.

FIVE STRIKING workers at the Somid Company Port on the Gulf of Suez were arrested and tortured by security forces personnel at the police station in Attaqa. The workers began their strike in the town of Ain Sukhna, which lies east of Cairo, on March 7 and were arrested shortly thereafter.

The five workers--Mohamed Essam Syam, Mohamed Farouk Al Gindy, Abu Alyazeed Abdel A'aty, Ahmed Mohamed Tal'at and Hassan Mohamed Al Qarmooty--went on strike to demand direct employment by the Somid Company Port instead of labor contracts of undefined duration with Subsea for Petroleum Services, a subcontracting firm.

The abuse of these workers raises the question of corruption. While the detained workers now face trial by military tribunal, it turns out that several of the company's executives are friends and relatives of members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that currently rules Egypt.

For example, Ahmed Tantawi, the brother of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, used to be director of the port's naval department before he retired. Later, he worked as a consultant to Somid Company Port.

Protesters in Tahrir Square demand an end to the use of military trials against civilians
Protesters in Tahrir Square demand an end to the use of military trials against civilians (Zeinab Mohamed)

In similar fashion, Mohamed Islam Khattab was given a role in the company as a reward to his father Khattab Hindawy, who financed the attack on the revolutionary uprising in Tahrir Square on February 2, 2011, in an attack that became known as the "Battle of the Camels."

Omar Seif Eldin Galal, the son of the former governor of Suez, also works for the company, as does a relative of General Sami Anan.

As a consequence, the striking workers directly confront the alliance between capitalists on the one hand and members of the former and current regime on the other.

The Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions hereby demands that the Egyptian Parliament assume its responsibility on behalf of those who elected them in order to expedite the release of the five arrested workers. We also demand the initiation of legal actions against those who gave the orders to torture and terrorize the striking workers as well as any personnel at the police station who participated in these acts of torture. We also demand that the company immediately grant the workers' demands.

We further call on all political parties and trade unions worldwide to stand in solidarity with the striking workers at Somid Company Port and to give their support to the struggle of these workers by whatever means they see fit.

Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions

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