On March 24, a judge in Minya handed down 529 death sentences in what has been described as a “sham” and at best, a cursory trial, which lasted only two sessions and in which lawyers said they were denied the right to make their case or question witnesses.
On March 25, an additional 682 defendants started another mass trial on the same or similar charges.
On March 26, Egypt’s chief prosecutor ordered two new mass trials for another 919 people on similar charges to those that were handed the death sentence on March 24.
“Egyptian authorities are holding a series of mass trials in a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of Morsi since the military removed him in July, 2013. Around 16,000 people have been arrested over the past months, including most of the Brotherhood’s leadership,” reports The Guardian. “The new trials bring the total number of defendants in Minya along to 2,147 in four trials, including the trial in which the verdicts were issued on Monday.”
The Muslim Brotherhood is an organization that, until August 2013, was seen as a major political influence with positions held in Egyptian government by some of its members. This all changed after former President Morsi was disposed following a military coup d’etat in July of 2013. The Muslim Brotherhood was blamed for a bombing that an al-Qaeda group claimed responsibility for, and the Egyptian government convinced most international observers that the Brotherhood was a terrorist organization operating within its borders.Between subsequent actions of the Muslim Brotherhood in the days and weeks that followed, and the aggressive retaliation for their protesting of Morsi’s removal, they quickly reduced themselves to earning the label placed on them by Egypt and those from the international community, including the United States.
But the question of these defendants’ guilt is a matter of law, and even Egypt has standards for legalities. Human rights, despite guilt, apply to all, not just non-terrorists if we as humanity, are to be civilized. There is reason to suspect the timing of these mass death sentences just prior to the elections, in which the general of Egypt’s military has just resigned in order to run for the highest office in the country. See General Who Led Takeover of Egypt to Run for President in the New York Times for more information.
“The imposition of the death penalty for 529 defendants after a two-day summary proceeding cannot be reconciled with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law, and its implementation of these sentences … would be unconscionable,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told a news briefing in Washington,” reports Reuters. “The death sentences on Monday and the start of the new mass trial on Tuesday “represent a flagrant disregard for basic standards of justice,” Harf said.”
We believe these mock trials and mass death sentences are politically motivated. We contend that when the majority of the defendants are not even detained, but names on a list from an arrest last July or August – what the Egyptian government is doing is issuing a blank execution order for all members they have the names for in an organization that opposes their agenda. We see this as a move toward a stratocracy. We reject any attempt to interfere in the elections within any nation by court-approved mass murder of the opposing side.