Statement by Global Student Forum

The Global Student Forum condemns the arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of Ahmed Samir Santawy. We join the call for his immediate release and an end to the persecution of students, academics, researchers and activists. Further, we call for the urgent attention of the global community to the ongoing arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and targeting of students by authorities in Egypt.

Ahmed is a graduate student of the Central European University in Vienna. Since February 1, 2021, he has been detained on baseless charges in Egypt. Harassment and the persecution of students by authorities infringe on students’ rights to education. Of greater concern, the personal safety and well being of students are at risk when they are constantly under the threat of violence.

On February 6, 2021 Ahmed Samir Santawy was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) whereafter he was confined to detention facilities without access to his family and lawyers. He reported that he was beaten during interrogations with the National Security Agency. Since then, he has endured inhuman conditions in a solitary cell with little access to warm clothes and food. He has not been able to communicate with his family since his arrest. His rights to humane treatment have been persistently violated. Ahmed’s case is connected to a wider pattern of the repression through harassment, torture and the arbitrary detention of students in Egypt, and the violation of their academic freedom and freedom of expression.

Ahmed’s case reminds us of Patrick Zaki. Another international student from Egypt, another arrest with political motivations, another educational path brutally interrupted by repression in the home country. Students from all over the world stand united with Patrick's colleagues and professors of the University of Bologna in demanding his release for more than a year now. As we see the same happening to Ahmed, we stand with the academic and student community of Austria in the firm request of Ahmed’s immediate liberation. In the past, Egypt has been held responsible the death of Giulio Regeni, an Italian researcher, in 2016.With ongoing trials in Italy to discover the real truth with regards Regeni’s case after years of misdirections, we have good reasons to be concerned about the conditions and the future of both, Patrick and Ahmed.

The Global Student Forum strongly condemns the arbitrary arrests and attacks on students and academic freedom. We urge the Egyptian government to immediately and unconditionally release Ahmed Samir Santawy.