22 April, 2009

Fishermen jailed by military court

Clashes took place between demonstrators and police in Ismailiya today, after a military court sentenced 3 fishermen to one year in prison this morning, Tadamon reports. The three men - Nasser Sa'ad Sadiq (33 years), Magdi Mohamed Ali (23 years) and Ahmed Mohamed Ali (28 years) - were arrested 12 days ago for wearing diving equipment in the canal zone. Two days ago they were ordered released by the prosecutor, only to be immediately arrested by the military police and transfered to a military court. After the sentence this morning, about 500 people blocked a street and agreed to leave only after they were promised negotiations about cancelling the verdicts...

During a meeting organized by activists from Tadamon in Borolos two days ago, on the occasion of Sham el-Naseem, fishermen from Fayyoum, Ismailiyya and Borolos met to talk about their problems and to exchange experiences. (Click the pic above for a set on flickr - I must say it would be nice if all these meetings could take place in such a nice environment, except of course for the 2x4 hours bus ride from Cairo). The meeting was a first step in a campaign aiming to connect fishermen and grassroots organizations working to suport them in different parts of Egypt.

During the meeting, fishermen from Ismailiyya complained about three main problems: recent hikes in the yearly license fees, refusal of ship owners to pay compensation for oil spills in the Suez canal, and the ban on fishing in the canal during the passage of warships and military transports - which according to the fishermen has had a severe impact on their income since the start of the US war against Iraq. They also complained about abuse and threats from the police and security forces, as a response to their attempts to organize around their demands.

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