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Egyptian authorities urged to release peaceful protestors

At least 20 people are still held in detention in Egypt after peaceful protests on Monday. The protesters, who took part in nationwide strikes and demonstrations, were calling for a range of political and economic reforms in the country. Others who were arrested during the weekend or on Monday were released the same evening. Many detainees were reported to have been beaten by the police. Amnesty International is calling on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release of all those arrested and detained because of their involvement in the national strike demonstrations. The organization is also calling on the authorities to end the mass arrests and harassment of peaceful protestors. Egyptian emergency laws, which have been in force continuously since 1981, prohibit most demonstrations. The laws also facilitate other serious human rights violations such as arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, secret detention and unfair trials before emergency and military courts. On Monday and over the preceding weekend, the Egyptian authorities arrested and harassed organizers and demonstrators in Alexandria, Kafr Sheikh, Manufiyya, Port Said, Qalyubiyya, Sharqiyya and Fayoum and at Ain Shams University. In many cases, police deployed heavy security in universities as well as gathering points in Cairo and other cities. Detainees are facing a number of charges including "incitement to strike" and "distributing leaflets calling for a national strike". Among those still in detention are student activists, members of the 6 April Group, the Kefaya movement, the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the al-Ghad political party. They include Mamdouh al-Nithami, the Kefaya Coordinator in Manufiyya, Mohamed Abdel Rahman from al-Ghad and Muslim Brotherhood member Ahmed Abdel Foutouh.  Journalist and photographer Hossam Fadl, who covered the protests for the daily newspaper l-Masry Al-youm was arrested and detained for several of hours and then released without charge.