Asmaa Beltagy, a 17-year old Egyptian, was standing among protesters in a sit-in staged in support of former President Mohamed Morsi when shots from a sniper rifle ended her life on August 14, 2013.
That day Egyptian security forces violently dispersed the sit-in in eastern Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square, killing nearly 2,600 protestors, according to figures by the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Egyptian authorities, however, say only 623 people were killed in the dispersal, including a number of security personnel.
The dispersal came a few weeks after the military, led by then-defense minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, deposed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, in a military coup.
In the aftermath of the coup, Egyptian security forces launched a harsh crackdown on supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood groups, killing hundreds and detaining thousands.
Hundreds of Egyptians have fled the crackdown and sought refuge abroad, including Asmaa’s mother, Sanaa Abdel Gawad Mohamed, who resides in Istanbul, Turkey.
“It was not an easy decision to leave my country where my daughter sacrificed her life for its victory, dignity and prosperity,” Mohamed told Anadolu Agency.
She said she had to leave Egypt “because they [authorities] wanted to take revenge on all of us”.
Mohamed’s husband, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Beltagy, has been in jail for over three years on multiple charges, including violence and incitement.
Her two sons, Anas and Khaled, were also detained by Egyptian authorities.
“They left none of our family members,” Mohamed said. “Even Hossam, the little boy, 13, they didn’t leave him alone. They chased him to send him to prison,” she said.
“For all of that, I was forced to leave my beloved country,” the bereaved mother said.
Eman Mahmoud Gomaa lost her son, Musab Elshamy, a talented photojournalist in his 20s, during the Rabaa dispersal.
“We had a dream of change, freedom and dignity and we got a chance to make our dream come true,” Gomaa told Anadolu Agency in Sudan.
She recalled that she was speaking with her son over the phone on the day of the dispersal. “We were laughing and chatting together until we heard the news of dispersing the Rabaa sit-in,” Gomaa said.
The Egyptian mother immediately left home along with her son Mohamed to join protestors at Rabaa al-Adawiya square.
“We saw some Egyptians walking down the streets as if they were zombie people. Some other people were so scared, rude and mean.
Their main concern was to spread out rumors and lies. They looked at us as if we had come from another planet,” she said.
As she joined protesters at the sit-in, Gomaa got a call from Musab’s phone. “I heard someone saying that he found the phone on the ground and he didn’t know whose phone it was.”
Hearing that, Gomaa realized that her son had been killed during the dispersal of the camp.
“He was honored and blessed to fight for the truth,” she said. “He pursued martyrdom and Allah gave it to him.”
“He was so precious to me, but Allah is more precious to me. If it was necessary to sacrifice ourselves for Allah, we would not hesitate,” Gomaa said.
Despite her loss, the determined mother still keeps her head up.
“Despite all of this, neither me nor any one of my family feel regret. We all say Allah is on our side.”