Social media campaign highlights forgotten detainees

A hashtag was created on social media Tuesday to shed light on detainees in Egyptian prisons who don’t have large public profiles, in the wake of a strong social media campaign advocating for the release of investigative journalist Hossam Bahgat.

Given his history as an internationally recognized human rights defender, Bahgat’s detention spurred fierce local and international uproar.

The hashtag, which translates as “Write the name of a forgotten detainee,” was used by social media users to remind the public of low-profile detainees that do not normally recieve media attention.

Some users posted the hashtag with simply the names of one or more detainees, while others used the campaign to highlight details of certain cases, and included prisoners’ ages, medical conditions, sentences, reports of mistreatment, and pictures in their posts. 

The exact number of detainees in Egyptian prisons is unknown. According to a report issued in May 2014 by Wikithawra, an independent statistical database, there are around 40,000 people imprisoned in Egypt. 

The detainees featured in the campaign include those detained from their residences during raids, like Ghada Khalaf, who was arrested from her house in August and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Her sentence was later reduced to one year, which she’s currently serving in a prison in Minya.

The campaign also highlighted the cases of some of those arrested during the dispersal of public protests, since a governmental crackdown on political dissent intensified in 2014 with the introduction of Egypt’s controversial protest law. 


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