Trials of Egyptian Communists Collection

Biographical / Historical Note

Short version:

In the 1950's many communists in Egypt were prosecuted and put on trial; after the re-establishment of the Communist Party of Egypt in 1975 these prosecutions were resumed; victim were leaders and members of the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (DMNL-HADITO), the Communist Party of Egypt (CPE), the Flag (Al-Raya), the Workers Vanguard (Tali‘at al-Ummal), the Egyptian Workers’ Communist Party (Hizb al-‘Ummal al-Shuyu’i al-Misri) and others; Egyptian communists always dealt with their trials as a golden opportunity to give their views on all aspects of political life and therefore the trials give an unique insight into their assessments of the political developments in Egypt and the reports of the political intelligence service describe in detail the activities of these prosecuted movements and persons.

Extended version:

The collection consists of the documents of the trials of Egyptian communists in thirty cases presented to courts from 1951 to 1989. The long and meticulously detailed proceedings of courts exceeding ten thousand pages gives a unique insight to the history of the Egyptian communism and Egyptian politics during the said period. Covering the last two years of monarchy and the rule of presidents Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, the collection mirrors the struggle of the communist movement in Egypt to survive and promote its ideology and political goals, on one hand, and the ardent efforts of the Egyptian state to suppress and dismantle the movement and undermine the potential risks it posed, on the other hand.

The trials in the collection include cases against most of the numerous communist organizations, which were bitterly competing among themselves in the second half of the last century, aside from their common endeavor to implant communism on the Egyptian soil. A considerable part of the collection is related to the leaders and members of the Democratic Movement for National Liberation (DMNL) (HADITO: al-Haraka al-Dimuqratiyya li-l Taharrur al-Watani) in 1950's and the Egyptian Communist Party (al-Hizb al-Shuyu‘i al-Misri) but there are also many cases pertaining to other communist organizations like the Flag (al-Raya), the Workers Vanguard (Tali‘at al-Ummal) and the Egyptian Workers' Communist Party (Hizb al-‘Ummal al-Shuyu‘i al-Misri).

Egyptian communists have always dealt with their trials as a golden opportunity to give their views on all aspects of political life in the country and to counter the government propaganda campaigns against them. Besides refutation of the legal charges against them, the trials present a unique insight into their assessments of political developments in the country, their opposition to the government, as well as the internal differences between the communist organizations. Conversely, the reports of the Political Intelligence Service provide a unprecedented detailed description of the activities, tactics, underground organization and organs of the clandestine communist movement. Finally, the prosecution and the charges brought against the communists and their defense in both political and legal terms is revealing of the state of affairs regarding human rights in Egypt at the times of the trials.

Acquisition

Gift Dr. Rifaat l-Saeed 2004

Arrangement

The collection was donated to the International Institute for Social History in 2004 by Dr. Rifaat al-Saeed, the present Chairman of the Left-wing Tajammu Party and one of the prominent leaders of Egyptian communist movement. Dr. al-Saeed, a historian who wrote more than ten books on the history of Egyptian communist movement, collected the proceedings of the trials during his research. The collection is sorted out and dated according to the official date of the case, and that may in many cases differ from the date of the actual trial or final verdict. The numbers of the cases and locations of courts and its level are also mentioned where available. The names of the communist organizations to which the defendants belong are also listed wherever it was possible to establish them. Each inv. no. represents one folder.

Content

Collection of documents on about thirty trials of Egyptian communists held before state and military courts in Egypt: proceedings of court sessions, including reports of the police and the political intelligence service 1951-1958, 1973-1989.

Processing Information

List made by Mohammed Abdelhamid in 2004.