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Broad international condemnation .. A fierce campaign of arrests affecting human rights defenders in Egypt

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights announced the arrest of the Egyptian security chief, its executive director, Jasser Abdel Razek, thus becoming the third official in the human rights organization to be arrested within 5 days, while international condemnation of this “fierce” campaign escalated.

In a tweet on Twitter, the initiative said that the State Security Prosecution decided to imprison Jasser Abdel Razek for 15 days on charges of joining a terrorist group and broadcasting false statements.

On Wednesday, the non-governmental organization announced the arrest of the director of the criminal justice unit, Karim Anara, and the administrative director of the organization, Mohamed Bashir, was also arrested.

The initiative said that its members were asked during the investigation about the visit of a number of ambassadors accredited in Egypt to its headquarters in Cairo earlier this month, to hold a meeting that discussed ways to support the human rights situation in Egypt.

International concern

“Middle East Eye” said that British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was in contact with the issue of arresting EIPR members after meeting with European diplomats.

A spokesman for the British Foreign Office said London was extremely concerned about these arrests.

The French Foreign Ministry also expressed its deep concern about the arrest of the managing director of the initiative, Mohamed Bashir, but Cairo rejected the French statement and described it as an interference in Egyptian internal affairs.

According to “Human Rights Watch,” the number of political prisoners in Egypt is about 60,000, including activists, journalists, lawyers, and academics.

Fierce campaign

For its part, Amnesty International called on the Egyptian authorities to end their fierce reprisal campaign against the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

In a statement, the organization renewed its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the EIPR members who were arbitrarily arrested.

She indicated that the crackdown by the Egyptian authorities occurred after the Egyptian Initiative hosted Western diplomats on November 3 to discuss human rights conditions.

And it called on Western countries – whose representatives attended the meeting, including Britain, Canada and Germany – to break their silence and publicly demand Egypt to release these human rights defenders.

And Amnesty International has warned of an unprecedented campaign against human rights organizations that could go beyond the EIPR to target other organizations.

Intimidating pattern

For its part, the United Nations has expressed concern that the arrests of human rights activists in Egypt are part of a wider pattern of intimidation of human rights organizations and the use of anti-terrorism and national security legislation to silence dissidents.

The spokeswoman for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, said that the arrest of 3 members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights is extremely worrying by the Cairo authorities, and she expressed her fear that this would be part of a wider pattern of such intimidation, as she put it.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also expressed alarm about reports of nearly 50 people being executed last month.

The spokeswoman said that the OHCHR office had received reports indicating that in some of these cases, the right to a fair trial and due process had been violated.

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