Nubian protesters suspend sit-in, meeting with PM scheduled for next week
Courtesy: Dina Sayedahmed
 

A Nubian sit-in was suspended on Wednesday after blocking the Aswan-Abu Simbel Road for four consecutive days, awaiting the results of a cabinet meeting.

The protesters were demanding the right to return to their ancestral lands and the suspension of a presidential decree allocating their land to a state-backed development project in Toshka.

On Wednesday, the protesters took part in a press conference with members of Parliament Amr Abul Yazeed, Mohamed Selim and Mostafa Bakry who negotiated the end of the protest with them.

Nubian rights lawyer Mohamed Azmy, who took part in the protest, told Mada Masr that they broke up the encampment with hopes of reaching a resolution with the government through negotiations.

“There are still ongoing negotiations with the cabinet and the presidency,” said Azmy, adding that a meeting is scheduled with the prime minister for next Monday.

Fatma Emam Sakory, a legal researcher who specializes in Nubian affairs, expressed concerns that the end of the sit-in would result prolonged political negotiations, reducing the likelihood of the protesters achieving their demands.

On November 19, a 25-car convoy calling itself the Nubian Right to Return Caravan stopped at the beginning of the Aswan-Abu Simbel Road. The convoy participants decided to form a sit-in demanding their constitutional right to return to their land.

Article 236 of the 2014 Constitution stipulates that: “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 and as regulated by the law.”

However, two executive decrees directly conflict with this constitutional provision. Presidential Decree 444 designates specific border areas as military zones which may not be populated with residents. These zones include 16 Nubian villages.

Decree 355, passed in August, designates 922 feddans of state-owned land to the private New Toshka development project. Much of this land also falls within historical Nubian sovereignty.

Nubians in southern Egypt have been forcibly displaced a number of times in the 20th century: first by the British occupying force in 1902 to build the Aswan Low Dam, subsequently when the dam’s height was raised in 1912 and 1933 and again with the building of the Aswan High Dam by former President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1963-64.

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