Forced disappearance is a threat to those that oppose regimes. In Southeast Asia, forced disappearance has long been a tool for dictatorial regimes to silence critics. For example, in the Thai case, in the past 5 years, there have been 10 dissidents abducted, forcedly disappeared and killed. The disappearance of Ahmed Samir Abdehay Ali reflected this trend of state crimes across the region.
FORSEA condemns the detention and enforced disappearance of Ahmed Samir Abdelhay Ali, a student at an Austrian University, by Egyptian Security Services on the 1st of February 2021, in Cairo.
Ahmed is a Sociology and Social Anthropology Master’s student at the Central European University (CEU) in Austria, since September 2019. He returned to Egypt on a study holiday to visit his family. Upon his arrival at the Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, Ahmed was interrogated briefly before being allowed to leave and be with his family. On 23rd January 2021 at 2 am, forces from the central security force broke into Ahmed’s house in the First Settlement in Cairo, weaponized and wearing masks, without a search warrant, in Ahmed’s absence. On 1st February 2021, Ahmed, accompanied by his father, voluntarily presented himself to the Fifth Settlement Police Station in Cairo, as requested by the authorities, whereupon he was detained. His father waited for Ahmed outside the police station, but Ahmed never returned. He was not seen or heard of ever since. The Fifth Settlement Police Station continues to deny any knowledge of his whereabouts, nor have any formal charges been brought against Ahmed. Yet, he continues to be detained. There has been no possibility for Ahmed’s lawyer to provide him with legal assistance while in police custody, and all communication with Ahmed has been cut off since then.
In the past, Ahmed has been involved in several projects with human rights organizations and NGOs in Egypt as a vocal human rights defender. Ahmed’s case is the latest in a series of cases of students being harassed and forcefully detained by Egyptian authorities, such as Patrick George Zaki, Walid al-Shobaky and Giulio Regeni. We call on the government of Egypt and Egyptian Security Services to release Ahmed immediately, or make his whereabouts public, allow the re-establishment of communication with Ahmed and provide him access to legal representation promptly.