Contains selective news articles I select

Posts tagged ‘Injustice in Egypt’

Egypt’s president submits nominations after rival’s arrest

Thursday 25 January 2018

CAIRO: Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi submitted his nomination documents on Wednesday, a day after a potentially serious challenger in the March vote was arrested by the military.

El-Sisi is virtually certain to win a second four-year term in the March 26-28 vote, as two would-be challengers have withdrawn from the race and another two have been arrested. But his supporters have been actively gathering signatures from voters in an attempt to show he has popular support.

Would-be candidates must secure 25,000 “recommendations” from voters or the support of 20 lawmakers to be eligible to run. El-Sisi already has the support of more than 500 of parliament’s 596 lawmakers. But on Wednesday his official Facebook page posted images of workers unloading boxes of recommendations from a van, each bearing the president’s image and the slogan “Long live Egypt!“

On Tuesday, the military arrested former chief of staff Sami Annan over a slate of serious allegations, all but ending his hopes of running in the election and ensuring that el-Sisi, a former general, will not face off against another member of the country’s powerful military establishment.

Amnesty International said the arrest of Annan amounted to an attack on rights to public participation and freedom of expression.

“It is clear that the Egyptian authorities are hell-bent on arresting and harassing anyone who stands against President el-Sisi,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty’s North Africa Campaigns Director. “This is consistent with the Egyptian government’s ongoing efforts to crush dissent and consolidate power by attacking civil society, activists and human rights defenders in the country.”

Annan’s arrest leaves prominent rights lawyer Khaled Ali as the only serious would-be candidate to challenge el-Sisi. But Ali’s candidacy is also at risk because he was convicted in September of making an obscene hand gesture in public. If that ruling is upheld on appeal, he will be ineligible. The next appeal hearing is scheduled for March 7, less than three weeks before the vote.

Two other presidential hopefuls have withdrawn.

Former prime minister and air force Gen. Ahmed Shafiq, who finished a close second in Egypt’s first free election in 2012, said he did not think he was the “ideal” man to lead the nation after days of harsh criticism by pro-el-Sisi media.

Another would-be candidate was former lawmaker Mohammed Anwar Sadat, the nephew of the Egyptian leader who was assassinated in 1981. He said the country’s political “climate” was not conducive to campaigning and because he feared for the safety of his supporters.

Another hopeful, Army Col. Ahmed Konsowa, was court martialed and sentenced to six years in prison for breaching military regulations prohibiting political activism.

In his first public comments since Annan’s arrest, el-Sisi on Wednesday reiterated vague warnings that Egypt is the target of a foreign conspiracy.

“The evil people are still trying to achieve their goal and all eyes are on Egypt, but no one will hurt Egypt,” he said at a ceremony marking Police Day.

“We are talking construction, building and development. We don’t want anyone to lead us astray with rhetoric that we don’t need,” he said, in what may have been a reference to Annan’s video message announcing he would run.

In the video, Annan spoke of deteriorating living standards and what he called the “erosion” of the state’s capabilities, which he blamed it on the military’s growing involvement in the economy and politics. “Wise” policies were needed to bring in the civilian sector, but that required respect for the constitution and guarantees of freedoms, added Annan.

He also took the unusual step of appealing to the military and state institutions to remain neutral in the election, saying they should not be biased in favor of el-Sisi.

El-Sisi led the 2013 military overthrow of Egypt’s first freely elected president, Muhammad Mursi, whose year in power proved divisive. The government has since waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, silencing nearly all its critics.

Except for Mursi and interim president Adly Mansour, who succeeded him in 2013, all of Egypt’s presidents since the establishment of the republic in the early 1950s have come from the military, and the security apparatus is believed to wield great power behind the scenes.

Source: Arab News.

Link: http://www.arabnews.com/node/1232271/middle-east.

Advertisements

10-year jail terms for 15 protesters in Egypt

December 29, 2017

An Egyptian court yesterday sentenced 15 persons to ten years in jail each for taking part in protests in late 2013 in the country’s southern province of Minya, a judicial source told the Anadolu Agency.

Fourteen of the defendants were sentenced in absentia and one was present in the court while the verdict was being pronounced.

The verdict may be appealed at a higher court.

Prosecutors accused the defendants of protesting, inciting violence, attempting to wreck public property and membership in an outlawed group, in reference to the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The defendants were arrested during a protest in December 2013. Prosecutors referred them to criminal trial in May 2015 and the first trial session was held two months later.

An interim government issued the controversial protest law in November 2013, four months after then-defense chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi led a military coup against the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi.

In the wake of the coup, the government also banned the Muslim Brotherhood group, accused it of terrorism, and rounded up its members and sympathizers. Thousands have been behind bars in pretrial detention or facing trial for membership in the Brotherhood and over accusations such as “inciting violence” and “membership in a terrorist group”. The Brotherhood has repeatedly denied the accusations and stressed that it adheres to peaceful protests against the coup.

The protest law, which was issued in response to a wave of protests that opposed the coup and called for Morsi’s reinstatement, was described by international watchdog Human Rights Watch as “deeply restrictive” and by Amnesty International as “draconian” and “repressive”.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20171229-10-year-jail-terms-for-15-protesters-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.

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/.

Tag Cloud