Tens of Nubians refused to end their sit-in on the Abu Simbel-Aswan highway in Aswan governorate as they continued to protest against the sale of their ancestral lands for the third day in a row.
A group of Nubians organised a convoy called “The Nubian Return Caravan” heading to Toshka, a region within the historic Nubian sovereignty currently tied to an agricultural development project; the convoy is protesting against two presidential decrees that would lead to selling lands that fall within Nubian territory.
The protestors had started a sit-in on the highway Saturday, after security forces blocked their advancement. Over 200 Nubians took part in the first two days.
According to Nubian rights lawyer Mohamed Azmy, the assistant commander of the southern military region met with protesters on Monday, so they could convey their demands to the authorities. He added that security forces are besieging the sit-in, which at this point has around 90 Nubians, blocking their progress to Toshka.
“He asked us to clear the road but we replied that the police forces are the ones who are blocking it with their cordons,” Azmy told Aswat Masriya.
Azmy confirmed that protests aren’t limited to the sit-in on the highway, saying that people all over Aswan took to the streets to express their demands.
The protesters called for reassessing presidential decree 355, which was passed in August and designated 922 feddans of land in Aswan to the new Toshka development project. Protesters say large areas of these feddans belong to Nubia’s historical lands.
“We demand the exclusion of Nubia’s land from the decree,” Azmy said, stressing that the constitution stipulates that this land belongs to Nubia.
In addition, protesters demanded the amendment of decree 444 of 2014 that zoned large areas along borders as military zones that couldn't be populated. These areas include 16 Nubian villages, according to Azmy.
Azmy added that they call for quick action regarding the resettlement of Nubians, who suffered a series of displacements since the early 20th century. Article 236 in Egypt’s constitution that was passed in 2014, pledged "to bring back the residents of Nubia to their original areas and develop them within ten years."
“There are no plans for escalation yet. Protesters don’t want things to escalate, but they’re looking for a comprehensive dialogue that would do justice to Nubians,” Azmy said.