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Fears are growing for the safety and well being of Malak al-Kashef, a transgender woman seized during a police raid from her home in Giza in the early hours of 6 March and who has not been heard from since, Amnesty International said.

Malak al-Kashef was taken by police to an undisclosed location. Her lawyers have not been able to locate her and police stations have denied she is in their custody.

“There are real fears for the physical safety and psychological well being of Malak al-Kashef. Egyptian authorities have a horrific track record of persecuting people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, including through carrying out forced anal examinations which amount to torture,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International believes that Malak’s arrest relates to her calls for peaceful protests following a major train crash in Cairo’s central train station on 27 February that killed at least 25 people.

“Malak al-Kashef appears to have been detained solely for peacefully exercising her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Instead of holding her in an undisclosed location, the authorities should release her immediately and unconditionally,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.

“Due to her gender identity, Malak is at increased risk of torture by the police, including rape and sexual violence, as well as assault by other detainees. The Egyptian authorities are responsible for her physical and psychological safety. They must immediately reveal her whereabouts, and pending her immediate and unconditional release, ensure that she is protected from torture and other abuses.”

Dozens of people have been arrested in recent days over anti-government protests relating to last week’s train crash that killed at least 25 people and injured many others. At least 32 people remain in pre-trial detention over unfounded charges relating to the peaceful expression of their opinions.

Malak al-Kashef is a transgender woman who is undergoing gender affirming surgery. However, she has not yet managed to have her gender identity officially recognized and is therefore registered as male in official documents. Her lawyers have sent appeals to the office of the Public Prosecutor and the Minister of Interior asking about her whereabouts.

In recent years, Egypt’s authorities have waged a sinister campaign targeting LGBTI people and carried out dozens of arrests and forced anal examinations in blatant violation of international law.

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