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Posts tagged ‘Injustice in Egypt’

Egypt extends state of emergency for 3 months starting Friday -official gazette

Thursday 12 October 2017

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi extended for the second time a state of emergency first declared following deadly church bombings in April, in a decree issued in the official gazette on Thursday.

The renewed three-month state of emergency will start on Friday, according to the decree.

“The armed forces and the police will take the necessary measures to confront the dangers of terrorism,” it said.

Parliament approved the initial state of emergency in April after the two church bombings claimed by Daesh that killed at least 45 people.

The state of emergency was then renewed on July 10.

The terrorist group said it was behind the bombings in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, and it threatened further attacks against Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority.

Terrorists also claimed a Cairo church bombing in December that killed 29 people.

The emergency law expands police powers of arrest, surveillance and seizures and can limit freedom of movement.

Egypt had been ruled for decades under a state of emergency, which was canceled a month before Mohammed Mursi took over as the president in 2012.

Following Mursi’s overthrow by El-Sisi, then an army chief, in 2013, a state of emergency was declared for a month after clashes between police and Islamist protesters that killed hundreds and after extremist mobs attacked Christian properties.

Source: Arab News.

Link: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1176496/middle-east.

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Human rights honor goes to Egyptian banned from travel

October 11, 2017

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian has been honored with one of the most prestigious awards granted to human rights defenders but was unable to accept the prize in person because his government has banned him from travel over his work documenting abuses.

Mohamed Zaree is one of several prominent Egyptian activists and human rights workers who are banned from travel over allegations of harming national security, part of a wide-scale crackdown on dissent that has stamped out much of the country’s once-vibrant civil society.

The Martin Ennals award is given out by 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to recognize outstanding work done at great personal risk. Zaree’s wife and daughters accepted it on his behalf at the ceremony in Geneva.

Zaree said he hopes the award will offer some protection to him and other members of Egypt’s dwindling human rights community, nearly all of whom face prosecution under sweeping laws targeting those accused of “undermining national unity.”

“We are all banned from travelling, and some have had their bank accounts frozen,” he told The Associated Press. “There is a danger for myself and my colleagues, but I believe the biggest danger is when the victims of human rights violations are denied their last hope.”

The 37-year-old Zaree leads activities in Egypt for the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, which focuses on the Arab world. The group moved its base to Tunisia in 2014 after Egypt unleashed a wave of repression against such organizations following the military overthrow of an elected Islamist president the previous year.

The group has handled high-profile cases, including that of Egyptian-American charity worker Aya Hijazi, who had established a foundation to aid street children in 2013 and was jailed on charges of child abuse that were dismissed as bogus by human rights groups and U.S. officials. She was released and allowed to return to the U.S. earlier this year after nearly three years in prison.

The award, named after a former head of Britain-based Amnesty, is among the most prestigious in the field. The other finalists were El Salvador transgender woman and activist Karla Avelar, and the FreeThe5KH group — five human rights defenders who were recently released after more than a year in pre-trial detention in Cambodia.

In Geneva, award founder Hans Thoolen celebrated Zaree’s “heroic” behavior in “holding the fort” nearly alone amid the crackdown on human rights organizations. “There was a very clear understanding that the Egyptian regime seems to be emboldened by the lack of action in the U.N. and by major states,” he said.

Local human rights organizations and other civil society groups played a major role in documenting abuses under President Hosni Mubarak, who resigned in the face of a popular uprising in 2011 after nearly three decades in power. Such groups continued to operate until the military overthrew his successor, the freely elected but divisive Mohammed Morsi, two years later.

But Egypt’s current president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who led Morsi’s overthrow, has presided over the heaviest crackdown in decades. Authorities have jailed tens of thousands, mainly Islamist supporters of Morsi but also several prominent secular activists.

The government has also pressed ahead with a law that would place heavy restrictions on civil society groups, which pro-government media outlets routinely portray as part of a foreign plot to destabilize the country.

“There is no comparison — it’s the darkest time Egypt has ever seen for human rights,” Zaree said. He said that under Mubarak “it was a fight to defend the space we had.” “Now it’s a fight for our very existence — the current regime doesn’t want to deal with any human rights organizations, political parties, activists or journalists,” he said.

Last month Ibrahim Metwally, a prominent rights lawyer who focused on the issue of forced disappearances, was himself arrested in secret, with authorities only acknowledging his detention days later. He remains in custody on charges of “spreading false news.” Metwally’s son went missing during clashes at an Islamist protest in 2013 and has not been seen since.

Police have also launched a crackdown targeting gay men after a rainbow flag was waved at a concert last month, charging over two dozen individuals with violating laws on public decency. The United States, which provides Egypt with $1.3 billion a year in mainly military aid, moved to halt or delay the transfer of nearly $300 million earlier this year, citing the country’s poor human rights record. But President Donald Trump has also praised el-Sissi as an ally against terrorism, and European countries still offer Egypt generous financing for advanced weapons systems.

As the award ceremony began in Geneva, Zaree, who was stuck in Cairo, called on Egypt’s foreign backers to do more to press for change, saying “security and human rights cannot be separated.” “It is the basis of stability — countries with economic and military relations with Egypt should make sure that the weapons they sell it are not used in human rights violations,” he said. “There must be oversight that ensures these weapons are not used against peaceful civilians.”

Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.

Remembering Egypt’s bloody military coup

July 3, 2017

Four years ago today the Egyptian army overthrew the country’s first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi. In the aftermath of the coup Egypt’s armed forces suspended the constitution and appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim head of state. Morsi and his presidential team were detained in an unknown location and later stood trial.

What: Military coup

When: 3 July 2013

Where: Egypt

What happened?

In January 2013, then army Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned that the political crisis in the country might lead to a collapse of the state. Two months later the Tamarrod movement collected signatures for a petition calling for new presidential elections in light of Mohamed Morsi’s failure to restore security and fix the economy and organised mass protests to this effect.

On 30 June demonstrators took to the streets. Armed vehicles were deployed around Cairo and armed forces to areas they expected protests in support of Morsi, such as Cairo University.

Morsi warned the country that he was the elected leader and that attempts to overthrow him would lead to chaos but on 3 July he was arrested by the army and detained in an unknown location alongside other members of his presidential team.

That evening Al-Sisi set out his roadmap for Egypt in a televised statement.  President Morsi had ignored the calls of his people, he said, and therefore he was suspending the constitution, calling for early elections, putting the chief justice in charge, putting in place an interim government and setting up a committee to amend the constitution.

Opposition leader and then Vice President Mohamed El-Baradei and the Coptic Pope Tawadros II stood by his side.

What happened next?

In the weeks that followed, Morsi supporters joined mass protests and demanded his release. On 14 August 2013 1,000 people were massacred by the army in Rabaa Square where they had gathered to call for his immediate return to power.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders were prevented from leaving the country and Morsi and his presidential team were held at secret locations. In September 2013 state television announced that Morsi would stand trial for “incitement to murder and violence” during a protest between his supporters and the opposition and for ordering others to be tortured and unlawfully imprisoned.

In November 2013 Morsi and other top Brotherhood figures were put on trial for the first time. In April 2015 they were sentenced to 20 years in prison. They still face trials in a number of cases.

In March 2014, Al-Sisi officially announced his presidential bid and assumed power on 8 June that year. In the four years that have followed the coup the military-led government has inflicted a wide-scale crackdown on all members of the opposition, not just the Brotherhood.

Unprecedented numbers of people have been forcibly disappeared, tried in mass trials or military courts, given the death sentence, tortured in detention and denied medical care once detained. Children are arrested, detained with adults and sexual violence used against them. Human rights organisations and workers have been targeted as well as journalists, activists and lawyers.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170703-remembering-egypts-bloody-military-coup/.

Citing Russian defense ministry, Israeli website says Egypt to send troops to Syria next week

January 10, 2017

The Russian defence ministry has reportedly announced that Egypt would send troops to Syria to observe the implementation of the truce reached between the Syrian regime’s forces and the armed opposition, according to the Israeli website Rotter.

The news website added that the Egyptian troops will arrive in Syria early next week, noting that a number of Egyptian officers had been already in Syria to pave the way for the troops’ arrival.

At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Egypt as a partner to join his country along with Turkey and Iran in the talks on Syria’s future and the implementation of the truce, according to Rotter.

Russia had decided to halt flights to Egyptian airports after a Russian plane crashed in October 2015 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 217 passengers on board. The Metrojet flight crashed after its departure from the Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh International Airport.

Rotter said that for Egypt to join the trio discussing Syria’s future would be a great Russian success, which is also interesting in light of Egypt’s tense relations with Turkey on the one hand and its relations with Iran on the other.

It will be also interesting to know the US response to this step, given that the United States and European countries are not taking part in the Syria talks, the Israeli website added.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170110-citing-russian-defence-ministry-israeli-website-says-egypt-to-send-troops-to-syria-next-week/.

Egypt to build 11th prison in less than 3 years

June 15, 2016

Egyptian authorities are to build a new prison in Qalyubia Governorate, north of Cairo, the third to be built this year and the eleventh since the military coup three years ago, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

Human rights groups have said that there are 40 prisons in Egypt, these along with police stations, military basis and secret prisons are all used to hold prisoners in terrible conditions.

Since the military coup against the first freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian authorities have increased arbitrary arrests based on political opinion.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights said that the number of prisoners held in Egyptian jails and detention centers has reached more than 41,000.

Egyptian authorities have said that the country’s constitution dictates how prisoners are treated and that they adhere to international laws, a claim human rights groups deny.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160615-egypt-to-build-11th-prison-in-less-than-3-years/.

Egypt journalists stage protest over police raid at union

May 02, 2016

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s journalists’ syndicate called for the dismissal of the interior minister and an immediate sit-in at its headquarters in downtown Cairo on Monday, to protest the police detention of two journalists on its premises the night earlier.

After an emergency meeting in the early hours of Monday morning, the group called for the “open-ended” sit-in to run through a Wednesday general assembly meeting and World Press Freedom day on May 3. Later Monday morning, dozens gathered at the steps of the building, chanting “journalists are not terrorists.” They plan for a larger demonstration Monday afternoon.

The syndicate described the police’s entry into the building as a “raid by security forces whose blatant barbarism and aggression on the dignity of the press and journalists and their syndicate has surprised the journalistic community and the Egyptian people.” Some syndicate members have said the raid was heavy-handed, involving dozens of officers and resulted in a security guard being injured.

Police denied they entered the building by force and said only eight officers were involved, who they said were acting on an arrest warrant for the two journalists — accused of organizing protests to destabilize the country. Unauthorized demonstrations in Egypt are banned, and demonstrators subject to arrest.

“The Ministry of Interior affirms that it did not raid the syndicate or use any kind of force in arresting the two, who turned themselves in as soon as they were told of the arrest warrant,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud el-Sakka, are government critics who work for a website known as January Gate, also critical of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government. It was unclear what size any sit-in at the syndicate could achieve. Police, backed by army troops, on Monday had initially barricaded the entire area and prevented people from approaching the building, but they eventually lifted the blockade. Still hundreds of uniformed and undercover police were deployed across central Cairo in order to prevent any protests.

A day earlier, police prevented hundreds of workers from holding a meeting at the building to commemorate International Workers’ Day, prompting independent trade union leaders to urge the government to allow them freedom of assembly.

The syndicate has invited the trade union leaders to join the sit-in to denounce the “raid” and protest restrictions on freedom of assembly for labor organizers. It said the move was illegal and violated its charter, which forbids police from entering the building without the presence of a syndicate official, and is urging police to end their “siege” of the building and stop preventing journalists from entering.

The journalists’ syndicate has been a rallying point for demonstrations in the past, and was blocked in a similar manner ahead of planned anti-government protests last Monday. The building drew particular attention because it was from there that some 2,000 demonstrators gathered last month to protest el-Sissi’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Police fired tear gas and arrested dozens to break up the protests, the first significant wave of street demonstrations since the former army chief became president in 2014.

A second round of mass demonstrations over the issue planned for last Monday were stifled by a massive security presence, with hundreds of arrests and only small flash mobs managing to assemble, drawing tear gas and birdshot from the riot police.

Egypt cedes two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia

Sunday, 10 April 2016

The Egyptian government on Saturday evening said a new maritime border agreement with Riyadh would put the Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran – long considered Egyptian possessions – within Saudi territorial waters.

“The Red Sea islands [Sanafir and Tiran] fall within Saudi territorial waters in light of the new border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” the Egyptian government said in a statement.

On Friday, Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail signed the deal with Saudi officials at the presidential palace in Cairo in the presence of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the latter of whom is currently visiting Egypt.

The government statement went on to describe the agreement as an “important achievement” that would allow both countries to take full advantage of their “rich natural resources”.

It added that the border demarcation deal was the “result of six years of hard work and 11 rounds of meetings”, noting that two technical committees had used the latest scientific methods to accurately demarcate the maritime border between the two countries.

“Ratification of this agreement will allow Egypt to take advantage of the exclusive economic zone in the Red Sea and will provide Egypt with exploration opportunities for additional natural resources,” the government statement read.

It went on to note that the deal would be brought before Egypt’s parliament – which is dominated by pro-regime MPs – for ratification.

Criticism

The agreement came in for heavy criticism by opposition figures, including many prominent former officials and parliamentarians.

In a joint statement, they asserted their “total rejection” of “all agreements concluded by this illegal regime, including the relinquishment of Egypt’s historical right to territorial waters, land and airspace, along with the management of its airports and wealth and its territorial jurisdiction and national sovereignty.”

The statement was signed by former MP Tharwat Nafi; Saif Abdul Fattah, a former adviser to ex-President Mohamed Morsi (who was ousted in a 2013 military coup); journalist Abdul Rahman Yousef; former MP Gamal Heshmat; former MP Hatem Azzam; former government minister Amr Darrag; Tariq al-Zumr, head of the Building and Development Party; Ayman Nour, a former presidential candidate; Ihab Shiha, head of the Asala Party; Yahiya Hamid, former assistant to ousted President Morsi; and Muhammad Mahsoub, a former government minister.

Tiran Island (80 square kilometers) lies at the entrance of the Strait of Tiran, which separates the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea only six kilometers from the Sinai coast. Sanafir Island (33 square kilometers) is located to the east of Tiran Island.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/24935-egypt-cedes-two-red-sea-islands-to-saudi-arabia.

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