Egypt executed 15 political detainees over the weekend in an effort to spread fear among demonstrators as protests underway since Sept. 19 began spreading to other cities.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved the execution of 15 people who were previously sentenced to death by the courts. The move comes as demonstrations are spreading in rural areas and city slums.
Two members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were arrested in anti-coup demonstrations in Alexandria in August 2013 were executed a day after protests were held on Oct. 2.
While no statement was made by the authorities, TV channels and human rights organizations announced the executions to the public.
We Record, a London-based NGO, said that Yasser al-Abasiri, 49, and Yasser Shukr, 45, who were detained in Torah Prison, were executed.
The next day, the regime executed 13 more people. The authorities have not yet announced their names to the public, according to Watan TV, an Egyptian channel known for being close to the Muslim Brotherhood that broadcasts from abroad.
The executions were confirmed on TV channels belonging to opposition groups such as Mekameleen and Al-Sharq which broadcast outside of Egypt and are mostly watched by Egyptians.
The Al-Sharq channel aired detailed information on the 13 people who were executed and reported that their relatives were asked to go to the morgue at Zenhom Hospital in Cairo to retrieve their bodies.
– Attempt to instil fear on the streets
The al-Sisi administration was worried over the “September Uprising” which started on Sept. 19 as a result of calls by Mohammed Ali, an opposition figure living in exile in Spain.
Demonstrations were first staged in villages and city slums and then spread to cities throughout the country.
The regime, which initially did not take the demonstrations seriously, began using force after increasing participation in the “Friday of Rage” and “Friday of Triumph” protests.
This led to the killing of three activists by the police on Sept. 25, but the anger on the streets did not fade.
Fearing that the protests which started for economic reasons could spread further, the administration launched plan B to execute 50 prisoners who had previously been sentenced to death by the courts.
As of Saturday, most Muslim Brotherhood members were waiting for the execution of the 50 defendants after all legal remedies were exhausted.
The al-Sisi administration has executed 15 prisoners in the last two days, holding the remainder in reserve to execute in another crisis.
According to Egyptian law, the power to implement death sentences or acquit the defendants belongs only to the president.
Thirty-five political defendants who have been tried and sentenced to death in different cases await execution in prisons.
– Nine prisoners executed in February 2019
Since al-Sisi took power, courts across the country have issued death sentences against hundreds of opponents of the regime, but most of the verdicts were overturned.
A final death sentence was given to 92 defendants in Egypt. The al-Sisi administration increased the number of prisoners executed to 42 by carrying out the sentences of nine dissidents on Feb. 20, 2019.
The 15 people executed in the last two days raised the total count to 57, while the remaining 35 death row inmates are counting the days to their execution.
Meanwhile, the courts continue to issue death sentences. On Sept. 30, six defendants were sentenced to death.