Statement by CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria on the Postponement of the Trial of Our Student Ahmed Samir Santawy
Vienna, May 9, 2022 -- Today's postponement is inhumane and only prolongs an ongoing travesty of justice, in which false hope is provided only to be taken away. On February 16, 2022, the sentence of CEU Masters student Ahmed Samir Santawy was quashed, in advance of a retrial. This postponement yet again strongly indicates that this was only meant to counter protests against Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi over human rights violations committed by his government. This is but a cynical ploy in the hopes that our attention will soon be diverted elsewhere. It will not.
Following his arrest over a year ago, on 1 February 2021, Ahmed was subjected to enforced disappearance. He was beaten and blindfolded while undergoing interrogation over his research into women’s reproductive rights in Egypt. Five days later, on 6 February 2021, the Supreme State Security Prosecution ordered his detention pending investigations into terrorism-related charges. On June 23, 2021, after an emergency court sentenced him to four years’ imprisonment for publishing “false news”, Ahmed went on hunger strike for 40 days to protest against the ruling.
Jailed for exercising his freedom of opinion and expression as a researcher and as a private citizen, Ahmed Samir Santawy continues to be a prisoner of conscience. As the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found, Ahmed has been detained for more than a year arbitrarily and in contravention of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, merely for exercising his freedom of opinion and expression as a researcher and as a private citizen.
We call upon our peers —the numerous universities and institutes of higher education in Austria, Europe and around the world, as well as students' associations and colleagues everywhere who supported our campaign—to continue to push for Ahmed’s immediate and unconditional release.
We will not be silent. We will campaign tirelessly to secure Ahmed’s release.