Nancy Okail er leder av Freedom House i Egypt. Hun sitter nå i samme bur i rettslokalet i Kairo som Sadats mordere.
Okail var del av en gruppe NGO’ere som ble arrestert i februar, anklaget for å motta støtte fra utlandet og lage uro i landet. Av de 15 var 12 amerikanere og syv av dem fikk forlate landet. De resterende skal opp for retten i juni.
Så fort amerikanerne var ute, friga Hillary Clinton 1,3 milliarder i militær assistanse, en grov feil, mener Okail. Dermed får de militære inntrykk av at det ikke er så farlig. Amerikanerne gjør gode miner til slett spill uansett.
In February, in the Cairo courtroom where the democracy advocates were being held in the same kind of cage as Anwar Sadat’s killers, Nancy Okail, Defendant No. 34, stood out. It was not just her beauty. The Egyptian woman who leads the Cairo office of the U.S.-based Freedom House was the one in the cage reading George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia.” It was her gesture of resistance to the Egyptian military regime that had put on trial democracy advocates who dared to partner with Egyptians in promoting democracy in a country that supposedly just had a democratic revolution. Apparently, Okail didn’t have her copy of Orwell’s “1984” or “Animal Farm” — classics on authoritarianism — because this fraudulent show trial could easily have been a chapter in either one.
While seven American democracy workers who were slated to be tried with Okail had been allowed to leave the country, she and dozens of her Egyptian colleagues still face prosecution at a trial re-set for June. She is deeply — and rightly — worried that the U.S., now that it has gotten its citizens out by paying a $5 million bail, will forget about the Egyptian democracy workers.
After the American workers were released, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved $1.3 billion in military aid to the Egyptian Army in an effort to keep relations on an even keel. It didn’t. The Egyptian authorities responded by asking Interpol “to issue worldwide notices for the arrest of 15 nongovernmental workers — 12 of them Americans — accused of illegally operating pro-democracy programs and stirring unrest,” The National Journal reported. It’s sad to see Egypt’s ruling military council — which has done good things to shepherd Egypt’s democratization process — get maneuvered by remnants of the old regime into this xenophobic attack on groups whose only crime was supporting Egyptian efforts to monitor elections and form parties.
“When the U.S. decides to just give away the military aid to Egypt without considering the consequences on us,” Okail told me, “it sends a message that the West and the U.S. don’t care about democracy and human rights. They just care about strategic stability. We, the defendants, felt betrayed. The battle we fight standing in that cage, hearing calls for our execution, is not a battle for our freedom but a battle for liberating Egyptian civil society.”