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Moreover, Seif added, young activists feel let down by liberal politicians uncritically backing the government who have been willing to “give up rights of citizens they have no right to give up.”

The three believe police targeted them because of their prominence to signal they are prepared to go after anyone in enforcing the new law.

Azab is well known from protests even before Mubarak’s fall. Standing out with her bun of curly hair, she has tangled in arguments and even shoving matches with thugs trying to shut down rallies.

The 30-year-old Hussein has focused on documenting police brutality the past three years, particularly on verifying names of hundreds killed and arrested in protests. She remains haunted by images of dead young protesters she has seen at morgues and funerals.

“Some died for their dream,” she said. “This dream is my compass and until it comes true, I will stay on the streets.”

Seif, a 27-year-old biology graduate student, emerged as a thorn in authorities’ side by leading a campaign against military trials of civilians, a tactic used against protesters since Mubarak’s fall. Her campaign forced the military to release details of thousands of cases.

Seif’s group organized Tuesday’s protest outside parliament to denounce an article in a revised constitution allowing military trials of civilians, even on charges as vague as “endangering public property.”

With the protest break-up, Seif believes, the police wanted to send a message: “This is how I do business, and if you don’t like it, beat your head against the wall. And if you think a known activist or a known media person will help, no one will.”

On Wednesday evening, the 14 women turned themselves in to police, arguing that since 24 male protesters arrested Tuesday are still in custody, they should be arrested too.

The police refused to arrest the women.

“If they want to try someone, it has to be me and us,” Seif said.