On Friday, many Western countries, the United Nations and human rights organizations condemned the arrest of 3 leaders of a prominent Egyptian human rights organization, after their meeting with ambassadors in Cairo early this month.
In a tweet, Deputy Spokesman for the US State Department, Kiel Brown, expressed grave concern over the arrest of a third employee of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and Coptic activist Rami Kamel, and Brown urged the Egyptian government to release these detainees and respect basic freedoms of expression and association.
The head of the US Senate State Committee, Jim Risch, said in a tweet on Twitter that reports of Egyptian security forces arresting 3 EIPR employees are worrying, and he called for their immediate release.
Also, a senior adviser to the US President-elect, Joe Biden, yesterday expressed his concern about the arrest of members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. And Anthony Blinken, a Biden advisor for foreign policy, re-published a comment from the Bureau of Democracy and Human Rights at the State Department stating that “meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime.”
From today, I will temporarily manage the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights until its leaders are released, the hostages. What I cherish most in my life is establishing the initiative in 2002 and running it for 10 years. I was also honored to remain chair of its board of directors as a volunteer to this day. And now I rejoin her talented and brave team #EIPR
– hossam bahgat (@hossambahgat) November 19, 2020
Canada and Germany
And the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded that human rights defenders in Egypt be allowed to work without fear, arrest or retaliation, and urged the Cairo authorities to uphold basic freedoms of expression, belief and human rights.
German Human Rights Commissioner Purple Kofler also condemned the escalation against Egyptian civil society, and called for the immediate release of the detainees, an end to the repression and the empowerment of all citizens to exercise their rights.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights reported Thursday that Egyptian security officials arrested its executive director, Jasser Abdel Razek, thus becoming the third official in the human rights organization to be arrested within 5 days.
Al-Sisi regime faces a stormy wave of criticism … superpowers, ambassadors and human rights organizations demand the release of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights detainees pic.twitter.com/Wqh5lAK4hU
– Al Jazeera Egypt (@AJA_Egypt) November 20, 2020
There were also statements expressing concern about the arrest of the leaders of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights from the French and British foreign ministries. The Italian news agency Adnkronos reported that the Italian ambassador to Cairo and other ambassadors sent a letter to the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry demanding the release of the EIPR members Personal.
Amnesty International called on the Egyptian authorities to end their “fierce retaliatory campaign” against the initiative, and to immediately and unconditionally release its detained members.
“This is an unprecedented crackdown on the human rights community. The tepid response by the international community risks emboldening the Egyptian authorities” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s MENA Research and Advocacy Director https://t.co/LTilftSAt8
– Heba Morayef (@hebamorayef) November 20, 2020
Imprisonment on two charges
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 security forces arrested the organization’s administrative director, Mohamed Bashir, last Sunday.
The initiative stated 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.
Commenting on the arrest of the three human rights activists, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said at a press conference in Geneva that the Egyptian authorities’ targeting of human rights defenders, and the additional restrictions imposed on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly imposed in the country, “have a profound and frightening effect on civil society. Egyptian who has already been weakened. “
There have been no official reactions yet from Egypt, but the Foreign Ministry rejected on Wednesday criticism from France after the arrest of Bashir. The spokesman, Ahmed Hafez, accused Paris of “interfering” in the internal affairs of Egypt.
Rights groups estimate that there are about 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, including journalists, lawyers, academics and Islamists who were arrested in a widespread campaign targeting the opposition under President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.