Ten human rights organisations have renewed their call on Egyptian authorities to release the detained political activist Abdel Rahman Tarek, known as Mocha, after he won the Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award.
The award is given to individuals who have made a significant impact fighting censorship.
Mocha tried to commit suicide in August after he was denied a visit by his family. After his attempt, he was placed in solitary confinement as a punishment.
His sister Sarah said he was in despair at the dire detention conditions he was being held in and was suffering psychological trauma from the torture. “Even his simple requests are prohibited,” Sarah said after his attempt.
The human rights researcher had already been on a hunger strike to try and secure his release, but he kept having new charges brought against him to prolong his detention.
In March last year a court ordered that he be released on the condition that he present himself at a police station every few days but instead of being released he was forcibly disappeared for 50 days.
In April he was put on remand for “joining a terror group”; “spreading false news” and “misusing social media”.
Mocha, who works for the Nedal Centre for Rights and Freedoms, was arrested in 2013 after he took part in a demonstration against civilians being tried in military courts in front of the Shura Council.
He advocated for defending freedom of expression and lobbying for the rights of prisoners and against enforced disappearance.
In September 2020 a court once again ordered Mocha’s release however he continued to be detained with new charges against him, a common strategy which allows authorities to bypass the two-year limit for pretrial detention.
“I am sure that when Mocha hears he won this award he will be extremely happy and he will spend a happy night,” his family said when they accepted it on his behalf, “but when he wakes up the next day, he will be feeling disappointed and frustrated that he will be spending another day in prison.”
“Today I tried to be Mocha’s voice, and I want each of you to be his voice, until he comes out of prison alive. Freedom for Mocha and all detainees.”