I can accept that I would be forced to lose my freedom, but I’m not ready to give it up with my own free will.
Last Monday, 18th of October, I was informed with the final decision by the Egyptian Military Institution to nominate me as a reserve officer for the armed forces. It is supposed that I deliver myself to the recruitment area to where I am included, On next Friday (22nd of October, 2010), to be transferred to the College of Reserve Officers at Fayed ( Ismailia ), to start a compulsory military service for 3 years.
During the last period, I was thinking too much of the correct decision which I have to take in that situation. I am a liberal activist since 2005; I have called for the ideas of individualism and individual liberties. I talked and wrote too much against the military regime of the 23th of July, 1952. I criticized the ideas of nationalism and the fascism that took over the Egyptian policies ever since the militarists came to power. I talked and extremely defended the right of both of the societies of Egypt and Israel to co-exist peacefully, to end the state of the continued conflict between them. I refused the continued harassment which the Egyptian regime does against Israel, as getting involved in without a justification in the 1948 war. As well as, the assault of the Egyptian regime on the right of Israel in the navigation in the international straits and the Egyptian regime’s support for terrorists who do violent activities against the Israeli citizens. In April, 2009 I have founded the movement, "No for Compulsory Military Service” (Arabic: لا للتجنيد الإجبارى) as the first Egyptian movement to promote for pacifism, the right of the Egyptians in the Conscientious Objection, and the superiority of the voluntary recruitment compared to the compulsory recruitment.
I thought too much and my decision was that I would refuse to do the military service in Egypt and I would bear the consequences whatever they would be. Despite of my knowledge that the consequences would be a misfortune as I am considered the first Egyptian youth to reject the compulsory military service because of my pacifist beliefs.
My decision has many reasons:
- Of which I am pacifist, against holding weapons, against joining the military formations and paramilitary. Accepting the recruitment would be coercion against my conscientious beliefs and my humanistic principles. I am not ready to go against my conscience and beliefs no matter what is the price.
- Also, I am not ready for being a piece of chess in the race to armament and the conflicts with the floods of blood which immerses the region. I am not ready for being holding a weapon against an Israeli youth, compulsory recruited, who defends the existence of his country. I am not ready for being just a number that generals would play with in the business of warfare in the Middle East.
- Additionally, I consider the compulsory recruitment as a type of slavery and I am a free person. I struggled for long years for my freedom. I struggled against my family, my religious group, the society and the police. I paid the price of my freedom very well and I won it. Right now I am not ready for giving up my freedom with my own hands to military gangs. All they can do is to kill, slaughter and bloodshed. I am more virtuous than taking instruction of military people.
- Above all, I am aware to the size of the intelligence publicity in which the military institution did against me for all the past period of time and their consecutive accusations against me with being an agent, treason and working for the interests of foreign bodies. After that sizable fierce publicity, I have become afraid on my life and my bodily safety in the armed forces, especially under circumstances of a law establishment which prevents existence of inspection for the violations which happen inside the military institution. Under the circumstances of the existence of the military court which isn’t neutral and which is part of the military institution that accuses me with the previous accusations. My carefulness on my life and my bodily safety make me accept years in prison, more than risking being subjected to being assassinated inside the army.
But, my words don’t mean that I am an evader of the military recruitment. I am rejecting, not evading. I live in the same address written on my identification card which is known to the Administration of Recruitment and Mobilization, the Military Security Forces and the Intelligence, which also is written in my letters to Minister of Defense, the Prime Minister, Heads of both Houses of Parliament and the President of the Republic. I am not hiding anywhere so the Egyptian police can arrest me anywhere and I am fully prepared to deliver myself to justice once I am being informed that I am wanted.
I only want to ensure that I am still a civil person (According to the Egyptian Legal System). The person becomes a soldier after getting a conscript card, handing it to his unit and wearing the military uniform. Nothing of the previous happened to me. I am here assuring that I’m a civil person. It hasn’t happened to me that I joined the Armed Forces, so I have the right to be tried in front of a civil court. Any attempt to try me in front of a military court represents a violation against my rights as a civil person.
Also, assuring my legal position that I am legally absent from the military service (not an evader) and the absent has no legal punishment except that when he goes to be recruited afterward, he would be recruited for one additional year. Subsequently, the military institution has no right to arrest me or make a lawsuit against me on not going to be recruited in the specified date.
I know that my decision means that I will pay a very high price. It means that I will lose my political rights for my whole life. It means that I won’t be able to travel outside of Egypt for a long time. It means that I will find difficulty to work, because I don’t have the military certificate. It means that I will constantly become subjected to harassment by Police Forces. Above all, I may be subjected to imprisonment more than once and for long periods of times.
But freedom has a price and I am a free person. I have no objection on paying the price of my freedom. With sacrifices such as this, great democracies were established in Europe and America.
- Sacrifices of the American activists in the 1970s and the consecutive sentences of imprisonment that were held against them, were the price that was paid for the United States retrieval of the Vietnam war and to end the military service in America.
- Sacrifices of activists in east Europe that some were killed and many others were imprisoned to stop the ethnic slaughterings in Europe, to change Europe from a place of ethnically grinding to a strong European union practicing a very respectable role in the international politics. Also, having very high standards for human rights not even found in America.
- Sacrifices of the pacifist Israeli soldiers who were subjected to too much imprisonment so that they would not hold a weapon in our faces. Their sacrifices don’t deserve from me less than having to take the same position and to refuse to hold a weapon against their faces. I am part of the movement of the peoples that chose peace and refuse war and blood.
With my position, I am glad to record a new position in the history of Egypt between the military institution and the Egyptian citizens. I hope that the day comes when the Egyptian military goes back to its barracks and to stop interfering in politics, so Egypt would be transformed into a civilian country without powers of military people on civilians and so that the military trials would be abolished, the traveling permissions, censorship by the intelligence on newspapers and its role in the political conflict protecting the military regime. I wish that the day would come that Egypt would be transformed into a secular liberal state, respecting the individualist values, peace, the freedom of choice for individuals and to adopt the concepts of professionalism and modernity in its philosophy for forming its national army.
Maikel Nabil Sanad
20 October 2010