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Egypt court to release 24 Nubians pending trial for protest

A rights lawyer says an Egyptian court has ordered the release of 24 Nubians pending trial on charges they took part in an illegal protest in the southern city of Aswan.

Moustafa el-Hassan says Wednesday’s decision was issued by a state security court in Aswan, where the Nubians protested in September.

El-Hassan says their trial will begin Dec. 12 and that they will be released within days. No bail was involved. They face charges of taking part in an illegal protest, receiving foreign funds and blocking roads.

The Nubian protest demanded they be allowed to return to their ancestral land around the lake formed by the Aswan High Dam.

Nubians trace their roots to an ancient civilization on the Nile. They were forcibly displaced four times in the last century.

Nubians complain they are subjected to discrimination by Egyptian state authorities because of their dark skin tones and indigenous language.

They say that authorities see them as a security threat and are mindful of any sign of secessionist sentiments among their ranks.

A constitution adopted in 2014 gives the government ten years to resettle the Nubians in dry parts of their ancestral lands, but they complain that no steps have yet been taken to achieve this goal.

Nubian communities were originally evicted from their ancestral lands in the 1960s to make way for a lake behind the High Dam on the Nile.

The evacuation of Nubians in the 1960s was the third in southern Egypt since the early 20th century. The other two were also because of dam construction on the Nile.

Allegations about the widespread use of torture in Egyptian jails have been frequent, from international bodies, human rights groups and former detainees.

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