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Human rights organisation Amnesty International has launched a petition for the release of Rami Sidky, a former student of International Relations at UvA. Sidky, who is a musician, has been in prison in Egypt since May 2018 in connection with a song that he has neither written, produced or performed.

The song in question is a song called 'Balaha', which is by another musician, Ramy Essam, and is critical of Egypt’s president El-Sisi. Rami Sidky played in Essam’s band until 2013 but has had no personal contact with him since then. In spite of this, Sidky has been in prison for almost a year now and there is no end in sight.

Amnesty describes the conditions in Egypt’s prisons as inhumane. Amnesty director Eduard Nazarski: ‘Sidky is in poor health, he is sleeping on bare soil, without bedding, and there are several people in a small cell. We strongly suspect that he has been tortured.’

UvA lecturer and junior tutor: ‘Rami is an easy-going, friendly young man’

The action by Amnesty has been stepped up by assistant professor Vivienne Matthies-Boon (Political Science). Rami Sidky was one of Matthies-Boon’s students, and she describes him as an ‘easy-going, friendly young man, who was always tolerant and understanding’. ‘He used to walk freely along the corridors of Roeterseiland, and now he’s both physically and mentally imprisoned in an Egyptian cell for a song that he had nothing to do with. It is simply shocking. Luckily, the UN, the European Parliament, and MPs from Germany and the Netherlands have also expressed their grave concerns, but now we are also asking for the express support of students and colleagues to put an end to this nightmare. So we’re calling on everyone to sign the Amnesty petition for Rami’s release.’

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