A letter from prison: When will I have the joy of celebrating with my family and friends again?

Nineteen-year-old Mahmoud Hussein was arrested in Cairo on 25 January 2014 for wearing a t-shirt with the words and logo of the “Nation Without Torture Campaign”, as well as a scarf with the logo of the “25 January Revolution”. He has been tortured and ill-treated in detention, and his pre-trial detention order has been renewed ever since.

On 8 October his detention order was extended yet again. He has now spent more than 620 days in jail without charge or trial. He is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Mahmoud is being held in Cairo’s Tora Prison. This is a letter he recently wrote:

The joy of Eid. What should I say about Eid? That occasion that Allah bestows upon us twice a year, once during Eid Al-Fitr, after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and as most recently, Eid Al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice. These occasions gather family and friends, so that they can enjoy being in each other’s company.

I have not experienced this joy, since I was arrested at the age of 18. I remain in detention, and in January I will be turning 20. I don’t even know when my detention is going to end, nor why I was arrested in the first place. I don’t even know what case they have against me, since I have spent all this time in jail without charge or trial. When will this period end? So long as they view me as an accused person, it may not.

Will I be tried for the sake of a goal, or an idea, or a dream that so many of us have dreamed since the “25 January Revolution” of 2011? I dreamed and so many youths dreamed with me that oppression, torture and the killing of youths would end. Youths dreamed of living in a nation without torture. That day will come and that dream will be realised in this nation, for which so many youths, young women and men, have spilled their blood, and for which so many remain in jail.

In this country, the oppressor, the killer, and those who dominate our rights are considered honourable, while those whom they kill or put in jail are branded as traitors or spies.

In this nation, one day, oppression will end and there will be a period for love and revolution. Then, I will truly feel the joy of Eid with the gathering of loved ones, and with it will come a nation that is pure and beautiful, and Egypt will be the unguarded bride.


Mahmoud Mohamed Hussein, Tora Investigations Prison

Amnesty International is campaigning for Mahmoud Hussein’s release. Take action and sign the petition calling on Egypt’s Public Prosecutor to release him.