From her confinement, Egyptian lawyer and activist Mahienour El-Massry penned an open letter to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 25 January revolution. “We are still on the journey to build a humane and just society,” the 30-year-old said in her letter.
El-Massry is currently serving a one year and three months imprisonment sentence over a Muslim Brotherhood-era case. In mid-2013, during the presidency of ousted Mohamed Morsi, she was among a group of lawyers protesting in front of El-Raml police station in Alexandria, calling for an official apology from the Ministry of Interior after having injured a fellow lawyer. The lawyers were subsequently arrested and charged with attempting to break into the police station.
El-Massry, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists Movement, believes Egyptians are facing both internal authoritarianism and tyranny, as well as an international system that is inhumane, and to which people mean nothing compared to profits and oil, “but we are still in the fighting ring.
“We made mistakes sometimes, we were defeated sometimes…We were arrogant sometimes and hopeless at other times,” El-Massry said.
Her letter, carrying a hopeful tone, mentioned five lessons “for everyone.”
“There is no individual salvation,” came the first lesson. She denounced calling for freedom “for those we know” instead of for all people, such as citizens who have been framed, or are in debt because of the economic conditions.
“If we allow the regime to separate us from the street and from our goals, then they have won the last round,” she added.
Her second lesson was not to accept any injustice that befalls even those who have opposing opinions, “and even those who tried to obliterate us.”
Accepting injustice against one person will make it reach us all,” she said.
A third realization was that “we are not satisfied with the honour of trying.” El-Massry believes that Egyptians should not continue running in circles but rather organize and formulate the objectives of the revolution into movements and initiatives.
“A scared regime arrests thousands and cancels elections,” she listed as her fourth lesson.”It shakes at the thought of an anniversary, despite the injustice of a whole year,” the lawyer asserted.
Her final revelation was that the revolution is ongoing “as life and dreams are ongoing.”
“Even in my cell I am filled with dreams of freedom and with hope,” said El-Massry.
The letter remembered Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, who was killed one year ago near Tahrir Square, where she had participated in a peaceful march.
This is not the first time El-Massry has been jailed. She was arrested while participating in a protest in solidarity with torture victim Khaled Said in December 2013, to be later released in September 2014. A month later, El-Massry was detained along with lawyer Mohamed Ramadan and two others over the allegation that they were protesting. They were kept in El-Raml police station in Alexandria but were released a few hours later.
Hailed as a voice of the revolution and a champion of women’s rights, El-Massry won the 2014 Ludovic Trarieux Award, given annually to a lawyer for defending human rights.