The hashtag #WhereIsRadwa (in Arabic) started trending on Twitter in Egypt on November 12, after the suspicious disappearance of Radwa Mohamed, a young woman known for making and posting videos critical of the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and calling on Egyptians to take to the streets and protest against the regime.
Mohamed Ali, a well-known activist opposed to al-Sisi, said that Radwa was arrested just outside her home on the night of November 12. When security forces came to her home, looking for her, she called Mohamed and left him a distressed voicemail.
In her message, she said, “Mohammed, I’m terrified. The security forces are here [for me]. They came to the coast. [Editor’s note: she is referring to the northern coastal region to the west of Alexandria and near the Libyan border.] I’m terrified, the security forces are right outside.”
Mohamed hasn’t heard from Radwa since this call and he hasn’t been able to get any information about her whereabouts. He posted a video and has been on numerous Egyptian TV shows to speak out against what he sees as a politically motivated arrest.
On the evening of November 13, state security services finally announced that Radwa Mohamed was to spend the next 15 days in prison, accused of spreading 'false information'.
'Human rights don’t exist in Egypt'
Radwa Mohamed's videos are very popular in Egypt, where each video can reach thousands of views and is shared on multiple platforms.
Mohamed Ali believes that it was the most recent video that Radwa posted that sparked the ire of the government. On Tuesday, she posted a video called “Human rights don’t exist in Egypt” in which she criticised the Egyptian First Lady Intisar al-Sisi for “doing nothing to address the poverty and major human rights violations” taking place under her husband’s regime.
'Radwa is in danger and I will go to the end of the earth to find her,' says Mohamed Ali.
More than 3,800 people have been arrested in Egypt over the past few months, according to Amnesty International
Radwa also spoke about prison conditions in her last video.
“As Egyptians, we all know what really happens in prisons,” Radwa says at the start of the video. “Yesterday, there was an official visit to Tora Prison. Of course, the officials acted as if everything was rosy, even though prisoners have been injured and killed in this same prison.”
Rights group Amnesty International has condemned on multiple occasions the mass arrests of opponents to al-Sisi’s government that have taken place over the past few months.
After the United Nations Human Rights Council published this year's Universal Periodic Review of Egypt, Amnesty International called on the international community to speak out about the worsening human rights situation in Egypt. The number of arrests is at an all-time high since al-Sisi first came to power in 2014.
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