Egypt criticized for arrests of human rights advocates


Nov 20, 2020

The governments of a number of nations whose delegates met with members of an Egyptian human rights group in Cairo earlier this month have spoken out in opposition to the Sisi authorities’s arrest of three lead members of the group in response to the assembly.

The governments of Canada, Germany, Ireland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands have spoken out in opposition to the arrest of high leaders of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a Cairo-based suppose tank that advocates for civil liberties and financial and social justice.

Egyptian safety forces detained govt director Jasser Abdel Razek, legal justice initiative director Karim Ennarah and administrative director Mohammed Bashir earlier this week on allegations that embrace becoming a member of a terrorist group and spreading false information.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry in regards to the arrests.

The United States and United Nations have additionally expressed concern in regards to the arrests. “We are very concerned by the detention of a third employee of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and of Coptic activist Ramy Kamel,” mentioned Cale Brown, the US State Department’s deputy spokesperson.

“We urge the government of Egypt to release those detained and to respect the fundamental freedoms of expression and association,” Brown mentioned in a press release Friday.

A spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s workplace mentioned the UN is “very concerned” in regards to the Egyptian authorities’s continued focusing on of human rights advocates, which she mentioned has a “profound chilling effect on an already weakened Egyptian civil society.”

A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres got here out in help of the assertion from Bachelet’s workplace.

On Nov. 3, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights hosted extra than a dozen European diplomats and ambassadors in Cairo to debate human rights points in Egypt. Bashir’s attorneys mentioned Egyptian safety forces questioned him particularly on the assembly.

The detentions additionally drew rebuke from President-elect Joe Biden’s high international coverage adviser, Antony Blinken, in addition to US Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Chris Coons, D-Delaware, Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and others.

“Meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime. Nor is peacefully advocating for human rights,” Blinken wrote on Twitter.

The arrests got here after greater than 50 members of the US Congress and greater than 200 EU lawmakers penned letters to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi final month urging him to launch imprisoned activists, journalists and attorneys.

The Egyptian regime has arrested tens of 1000’s of individuals since Sisi got here to energy after main a coup in opposition to President Mohammed Morsi in 2013, rights organizations say. Sisi’s regime has turn into identified for forcible disappearances and intimidating residents who’re publicly crucial of the federal government.

Another Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights researcher, Patrick George Zaki, stays in detention since his arrest in February.

The group’s founder, Hossam Baghat, now a journalist with Mada Masr, mentioned on Twitter on Friday that he would return to the group “till the release of its leaders.”

Outgoing US President Donald Trump has been a vocal supporter of Sisi, whose regime employed a Washington agency that features bipartisan insiders to foyer the incoming Biden administration following the president-elect’s victory speech earlier this month.  

Sisi and Shoukry have denied that any prisoners in Egypt are being held for political causes.