President Biden can save my father | Middle East
In the past three years, I have often had nightmares. I dreamt that my father Osama Yassin, a pediatrician and former Egyptian youth minister, was executed by the Egyptian government.
On June 14, this nightmare was one step closer to becoming a reality. In the so-called Rabaa sit-in and dispersal case, the Supreme Court of Appeal of Egypt upheld the death sentence of 12 detainees, including my father. In the summer of 2013, my father participated in a peaceful demonstration against the coup that overthrew the elected President Mohammed Morsi.
On August 13, 2013, security forces carried out a ruthless attack on the sit-in in Rabah Square in Cairo, killing more than 1,000 people. The attack is considered the worst mass murder in modern Egyptian history and the deadliest single-day national violence since the infamous Chinese government suppressed the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
Every morning, I wake up to the buzzing sound of my phone, praying that the news that I am afraid of will not come. At the time of writing, my father is still alive. However, I worry that every day may be his last day.
After my father was detained in 2013, he was held in solitary confinement for eight years. For six of them, he was barred from receiving visitors and meeting with his lawyer. In the few times we were able to see him, it was obvious that his health had deteriorated significantly.
He will never see the sun, without food and water for several days. This treatment has increasingly become the norm for many of the tens of thousands of political prisoners in Egypt.
In my mind, I can imagine my father’s charcoal gray eyes; I tried to remember how they looked without soundproof glass between me and them, and how their sparks warmed my soul. How could such bright eyes be hollow?
Rabaa 12’s death sentence was pronounced in a large-scale trial, which Human Rights Watch described as “extremely unfair” and rife with violations of due process and human rights. In the unfair judicial process, the human rights of many Egyptians are completely left aside, and these 12 people are only a small part of them.
In the past few years, the Egyptian regime has accelerated the speed of executions. The Egyptian Human Rights Front has recorded a significant increase in the number of executions, from 48 in 2019 to 126 last year; by 2021, at least 57 people have been executed.
Many human rights organizations have repeatedly called on the Egyptian authorities to stop these politicized trials and executions. It is against the background of this increasing massacre that the thought of my father being killed now consumes my day and night.
My father and his other detainees sentenced to death were accused of participating in unauthorized protests and violent security forces. However, there is no evidence to support his claim that he was involved in violent acts.
My father was charged with hundreds of other men, but no specific evidence was presented against any of them. In fact, these judgments are intended to stifle legal dissent and warn any Egyptians who dare to challenge the absolute authority of the regime. Despite being accused of planning the Rabaa sit-in, some defendants were detained before the Rabaa sit-in was attacked and dispersed. At the same time, no government official was held responsible for the Rabah massacre.
We now hear from our lawyers that the execution orders of my father and 11 other people have been signed. All I have left is to call on the US government and President Joe Biden to intervene on behalf of my father.
Like many Egyptians, I have been following President Biden’s strong statement of support for human rights. The fact that he adheres to the values ??of freedom and justice fills me with hope.
If my father were executed for peaceful protest against tyranny, it would only further encourage arbitrary detention, torture and execution as part of the escalating repression of dissidents in Egypt and other regions. President Biden has repeatedly publicly opposed this brutal abuse.
My father, or let me call him Dad in my native language, because I think it’s closer to him-if this is really his last few days, I want to get close to him as much as possible-is a well-known Pediatrician. Parents brought their sick children from all over Egypt to seek his help.
To this day, I have received messages from people who believe that my father saved their lives and health. He lives to serve his country, his community and his people. For this reason, he is now tortured in prison and sentenced to death by a dictatorship that regards any political dissent as a reason for execution.
My father faced death for the crime of speaking out and coming forward for what he thought was the right thing. Although speaking out will bring risks to my family in Egypt, I must also stick to the right approach and work hard to save him. My remaining hope is that the Biden administration will intervene and use its influence on the Cairo regime to stop executions, save my father and countless people like him, and one day reunite us. My dearest father, I still hope you can be saved.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.