A court hearing has finally been held in Aswan, Egypt, for the 32 Nubian protesters who had been arrested following their demonstration on September 3, 2017. Of the 32 people, 24 were arrested during the protests that day and the rest were apprehended later. Charged by the government with such crimes as inciting protests, disrupting public order, and blocking roads, eight of the protesters were acquitted this April 7th of the charges, according to one news report, though another source reported that seven were acquitted.

Nubian kids in Aswan
Nubian kids in Aswan (Photo by Eve Fouché in Flickr, Creative Commons license)

The remaining 24 (or 25) defendants were fined by the State Security Emergency Court between 30,000 and 50,000 Egyptian pounds (U.S.$1,733 – $2,890) each, though the fines will only be enforced if the guilty individuals commit more crimes. The nature of their crimes was that they participated in a peaceful demonstration in the city of Aswan for the recognition of their rights as guaranteed by the constitution of 2014—the right of return to Old Nubia. In essence, they were arrested for insisting on the validity of the constitution.

A third news story about the court hearing gives better background of the issue. It indicates that the protest march nearly two years ago was inspired by article 236 of the Egyptian constitution which says, “The state shall work on developing and implementing projects to return the residents of Nubia to their native areas and develop them within 10 years.”

Nubian kids playing with paints in Aswan
Nubian kids playing with paints in Aswan (Photo by Amro alashrf in Wikimedia, Creative Commons license)

Mohamed Azmy, a Nubian lawyer and activist, is quoted in the story as saying in 2016 that several organizations were preparing to file a complaint against the government with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.

The reporter also quoted Fatma Eman, a well-known Nubian activist, for her statement, “we’ve reached the stage where we are unable to deal with the government.” She went on to say, “we thought in 2014 that the government had changed its attitude towards Nubians, but time has proven that these constitutional guarantees are just ink on paper.”