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M I D D L E

E A S T

PORTRAITS OF FREEDOM HEROES OF TAHRIR SQUARE PICTURES BY PLATON


F E AT U R E

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1) April 1, 2011: Egyptians return to Tahrir Square in Cairo for a rally to "save the revolution" and protect their right to demonstrate. 2) Ahmed Seif al-Islam, 60, is a veteran Egyptian lawyer, activist and former political prisoner and founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, which since 2008 has been the leading Egyptian NGO providing legal assistance to protesters. 3) Heba Morayef, the Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, covering Egypt. In the middle of the demonstrations and violence during the Tahrir protests, Morayef visited hospitals and morgues to document the civilian death toll from government attacks and sniper fire. 4) Sama Lotfy, 2, Neama el-Sayed, 26, Yassin Lotfy, six months, the children and widow of a protester killed by Egyptian security forces during the Tahrir Square demonstrations.


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PORTRAITS

HUMAN RIGHTS

OF FREEDOM

Images from Cairo’s Tahrir Square have become iconic symbols of the struggle against oppression and have helped inspire the fight for human rights across the Middle East and beyond; but many goals of the Egyptian Revolution are yet to be fulfilled. Repressive laws remain in place, the military continues to detain its critics and prosecute them in military courts and the torturers of the old regime have gone unpunished, prompting thousands to return to the streets to demand greater reforms. For a look at some of the Egyptians who helped begin the process of change in their country, EXECUTIVE presents in the following pages portraits of men and women from all walks of life who joined the movement to end Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of repressive rule. All photos taken by Platon in April 2011, commissioned by Human Rights Watch.

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1) Hossam Bahgat, 31, is the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, which he founded in 2002. He has long played a prominent role in exposing human rights violations in Egypt, including the government’s failure to prosecute sectarian violence against Coptic Christians. 2) Muslim-Christian unity youth organizers, from left to right: Moaz Abdel Kareem, 28, from the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and a participant in the Tahrir Square protests. Sally Moore, 33, psychiatrist, feminist and Coptic Christian youth leader. Mohammed Abbas, 26, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s youth movement and a leader in Tahrir Square who worked with secular counterparts and the April 6 movement in planning protests. Mohammad Abbas and Sally Moore drafted a “birth certificate of a free Egypt” shortly after Mubarak’s resignation. 3) Wael Ghonim, 30, the Google regional marketing executive who administered the “We are all Khaled Said” Facebook page after the young Alexandria man’s brutal killing by police. Ghonim’s passionate appearance on Egyptian television after being detained for 12 days by the security police helped energize the protest movement. 4) Nawal el-Saadawi, 80, an Egyptian writer, veteran women’s rights advocate, psychiatrist and author of more than 40 fiction and non-fiction books, many of which address the persecution of Arab women. Saadawi’s decades-long struggle for women’s rights and against female genital mutilation helped pave the way for the adoption of a historic 2008 law that banned the practice in Egypt.


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1) Sondos Shabayek, 25, a writer for independent Egyptian newspapers and magazines and a “citizen journalist” who participated in and tweeted the story of the Tahrir Square protests. 2) Sarrah Abdel Rahman, 23, a social medi activist who reported from Tahrir Square with her popular “sarrahsworld” YouTube commentaries. 3) Laila Said, the mother of 28-yearold Khaled Said, with influential Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim. Speaking out about the torture and murder of her son by Egyptian police in June 2010, Laila became known as the “Mother of Egypt” and as an emblem of the consequences of endemic police torture and impunity. 4) Alaa alAswany, an Egyptian writer born in 1957 and author of acclaimed novel The Yacoubian Building. He was a founding member of the political opposition movement Kefaya (“Enough”). 5) Ramy Essam, 23, a charismatic singer, guitarist and songwriter who became famous during the Tahrir Square protests as “The Singer of the Square”, was detained and tortured by the Egyptian military after President Hosni Mubarak fell.

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Photo essay  

The heroes of Tahrir Square were everyday Egyptians who, in different ways, helped to change their country forever

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