The „world leaders“ are currently discussing possible solutions for the climate crisis during the UN-Climate Conference in Egypt’s resort town of Sharm El Sheikh. Meanwhile egypt’s regime imprisoned tens of thousands for political reasons. Human Rights Defenders, Gender Justice Fighters, Environmental and Climate Activists are rotting in jails instead of doing their important work for a better present and future.
Many egyptian Human Rights organizationts (among others: Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and Egyptian Human Rights Forum) started a petition to demand open civic space and the release of all political prisoners. Here is what they have to say:
Preparations for COP27 are taking place against the backdrop of an ongoing and deep-rooted human rights crisis in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities have for years employed draconian laws, including laws on counter terrorism, cyber crimes, and civil society, to stifle all forms of peaceful dissent and shut down civic space. We note that, under the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, thousands continue to be arbitrarily detained without a legal basis, following grossly unfair trials, or solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Thousands are held in prolonged per-trial detention on the basis of spurious terrorism and national security accusations. Among those arbitrarily detained are dozens of journalists targeted for their media work, social media users punished for sharing critical online content, women convicted on morality-related charges for making Tik Tok videos, and members of religious minorities accused of blasphemy.
Prisoners are held in detention conditions that violate the absolute prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment, and since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power hundreds have died in custody amid reports of denial of healthcare and other abuse. Egypt remains one of the world’s top executioners, executing 107 in 2020 to 83 in 2021, with at least 356 people sentenced to death in 2021, many following grossly unfair trials including by emergency courts. The crisis of impunity has emboldened Egyptian security forces to carry out extra-judicial executions and other unlawful killing, enforced disappearances and torture with no fear of consequences.
Petition: COP Civic Space https://copcivicspace.net/petition/
EuroMed Rights, one of the largest and most active networks of human rights organisations in the Euro-Mediterranean region, documented human rights violations and cases of political prisoners in egypt. They offer a platform to people who are getting silenced and imprisoned by the government.
These are just some of the people that need to be released now:
Blogger and figure of the 2011 revolution. He was sentenced under the Protest Law (Law 107/2013) to five years in jail for “organising a protest” against military trials. EuroMed Rights documented his case in a trial observation report. In March 2019, he was released from prison but was only partially free as the conditions for his release stipulated that he had to spend 12 hours each day in the police station for the next five years. On 29 September 2019, Alaa was arrested from the police station where he was carrying out the 12-hour police monitoring and detained. Since his arrest, he has been subjected to torture and degrading treatment. He was also fined in a second case in October 2018 for tweets questioning Egypt’s judiciary. Alaa was on hunger strike for over a month beginning on 12 April 2020 to protest his detention and the ban on family visits to detainees since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. On 23 November 2020, he was placed on the terrorism list for a period of five years. On 20 December 2021, the Emergency State Security Court sentenced him to 5 years in prison for “spreading false news” as part of case 1228 of 2021, in an unfair trial, with no right to appeal. The two years of pre-trial detention will not be deducted from this sentence, because he was tried in a nominally different case than the one for which he was first detained, though the false news charges were essentially the same. Alaa started a hunger strike on 5 April 2022 in protest of his detention conditions and his sentence. He shows worrying signs of mental and physical health deterioration, his family fears he might die in prison. One of his demands is a British consular visit to his prison cell, as he has the British nationality.
Prominent political activist, co–founder of the Kefaya and the 6th of April Movements. Arrested in 2011, accused of the assaulting police, unlawful assembly and vandalising property in the case known as the ‘’Cabinet Clashes’’ when military forces violently dispersed a demonstration in front of the Cabinet building and clashed with protesters. He was imprisoned 18 times under the regimes of Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and twice under Morsi’s presidency. He was given a life sentence in February 2015,
overturned in October 2017. In January 2019, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and given a 6 million EGP fine (around 300,000 EUR). He has also been given sentences in three other cases. His 15 years sentence was upheld by the Court of Cassation on 4 July 2020. His health has deteriorated during detention. He was on hunger strike from 26 March to 5 April 2022, to protest his maltreatment from the Ministry of Interior preventing him from exercising and from receiving medicine. He was reportedly assaulted, and his family has
not been able to visit him.
Associate researcher with the Arab Reform Initiative, former guest researcher at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC, specialist in the study of jihadist movements in the Sinai Peninsula, and well–known investigative journalist. He was sentenced in May 2018 to 10 years in prison by a military court with charges of belonging to the now–banned Muslim Brotherhood and intentionally disseminating false information; the ruling was upheld in December 2018.
Human rights lawyer and director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms. On 29 September 2019, Mohamed el–Baqer was arrested at the premises of the state security prosecution where he was attending an investigation session of the blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who had been arrested earlier that morning. He was held in pre–trial detention on charges of joining an illegal group and spreading false news in supreme state security case 1356/2019. He has reportedly been subjected to torture and degrading treatment since his arrest. On 31 August 2020, he was investigated in a new case (855/2020) on charges of joining a terrorist group and taking part in a criminal agreement to commit terrorist crimes. He was then added on the terrorism list for a period of five years. The appeal against this decision was rejected on 18 November 2021. On 20 December 2021, the Emergency State Security Court sentenced him to 4 years in prison for “spreading false news” as part of case 1228 of 2021, in an unfair trial, with no right to appeal. The two years of pre–trial detention will not be deducted from this sentence, because he was tried in a nominally different case than the one for which
he was first detained, though the false news charges were essentially the same. His defence is requesting the re–calculation of his prison sentence to count pre–trial detention, and his conditional release for having served half the term of the prison sentence.
Blogger and Youtuber who runs a blog and Facebook page called Oxygen Egypt where he publishes reports on human rights issues. He was in pre–trial detention from April 2018 to July 2019 on charges of publishing false news and joining an outlawed group in case 621/2018, before being released with precautionary measures. On 21 September 2019, he was transferred from the police station to the National Security Headquarters while carrying out the probation measures issued against him in state security case 621/2018. He was forcibly disappeared for 18 days and appeared before the prosecution where he was handed a 15-day detention order in case 1356/2019, on charges of engaging with a terrorist group to help achieve its aims, spreading false news and statements and misusing social media. On 3 November 2020, Giza Criminal Court replaced his pre-trial detention with precautionary measures in state security case 1356/2019, in which he is charged with cooperating with a terrorist group and disseminating false news. However, on 10 November 2020, the Supreme State Security Prosecution interrogated him in a new case (855/2020), accusing him of joining a terrorist
group, hence extending his pre-trial detention. He has not seen his family nor his lawyers for over 21 months, leading him to attempt suicide in July 2021. On 20 December 2021, the Emergency State Security Court sentenced him to 4 years in prison for “spreading false news” as part of case 1228 of 2021, in an unfair trial, with no right to appeal. The two years of pre-trial detention will not be deducted from this sentence, because he was tried in a nominally different case than the one for which he was first detained, though the false
news charges were essentially the same. His mother passed away in February 2022 and he refused to attend her funeral. His mental health is extremely worrying. His lawyers have filed two complaints regarding the Prison’s authority’s refusal to allow him visits by his family and his lawyers, but no investigation has followed.
Veterinarian, environmental and human rights defender, member of the Kefaya opposition group, and trade unionist, Ahmed was arrested on 17 June 2020 and forcibly disappeared for 25 days. On 12 July, he was investigated in state security case 1360/2019, on the charge of joining a terrorist group. Ahmed was already forcibly disappeared in 2017 and imprisoned for almost 19 months at Tora prison, where he was subjected to torture and medical negligence.
Political science professor at Alexandria University and expert on democratic transitions, was forcibly disappeared from his home in June 2020 and charged several weeks later with allegedly joining a terrorist organization and spreading false information. While in prison, he has been forced to share a room with 30 other detainees and prohibited from exercising. He was also not allowed to receive family visits for the first six months of his detention.
Human rights lawyer and director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms. He was arrested following a BBC report on torture and accused of spreading false news. Expected to be released following a decision of the Giza criminal court, he was instead forcibly disappeared between 14 September 2018 and 3 February 2019. After re–appearing, the court ordered him to be held in pre–trial detention. In April 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a legal opinion recommending his immediate release. On 28 July 2019, the Egyptian authorities questioned him in another case over “membership in a banned group.” He was referred to the Emergency State Security Court for his first trial session on 11 September 2021 in Case 1552/2018, which was postponed multiple times.
Human rights lawyer, worked on documenting human rights abuses, including incidents of enforced disappearance. She formerly served on Egypt’s National Council for Human Rights in 2012–2013. She was a spokesperson for the Women’s Revolutionary Coalition of Egypt. She was arrested at her house in the middle of the night on 1 November 2018, without being informed of the reasons of her arrest. She was blindfolded and put in a police vehicle, and the authorities didn’t inform her family of where she was being brought. She appeared again on 21 November 2018 at the Supreme State Security Prosecution in New Cairo after almost three weeks of forced disappearance. She was added to case 1552/2018 in which she faces charges of joining and funding a terrorist organisation and incitement to harm the national economy. Cairo’s criminal court has continuously renewed her pre-trial detention for 45 days at a time. Her health condition has seriously degraded. She is in urgent need of medical care to address her heart disease, but the prison authorities refuse to transfer her to an external hospital.
Human rights lawyer and co–founder of the Association of the Families of the Disappeared after his own son was forcibly disappeared. A legal advisor to the family of Giulio Regeni, he was arrested in September 2017 while travelling to Geneva to participate in a session of the UN Working Group of Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance. He spent over two years in pre–trial detention, exceeding the maximum period set by Egyptian law, before being accused and detained in a new case on 5 November 2019. He faces charges of joining a terrorist group and funding terrorism. His health has severely deteriorated during detention. On 26 August 2020, he received a release order with precautionary measures in state security case 1470/2019, yet the release order was not implemented. He was then accused and investigated in a new case (786/2020) by the supreme state security prosecution on the charge of „taking command of a group“ which was formed during his transfers to and from the prosecution for detention renewals. He has been suffering from prostate hyperplasia for over a year and has been denied access to medication. He requires urgent surgery to avoid serious
complications that could be life–threatening and to relax the extreme pain he suffers in his solitary cell:
Political activist and co–founder of the 6th of April youth movement. Took part in the Kefaya movement in 2005. In November 2013, he was tried by a Cairo misdemeanour court on charges for unlawful protest and for allegedly assaulting police officers, and he was arbitrarily sentenced to three years in prison. Mr Adel was first released on probation in July 2017, but he was required to reside within the police station every night from 6 pm to 6 am. On 18 June 2018, he was detained during one of his holding periods and was handed a 15–day detention order by Daqahlia prosecution, pending investigations into charges of spreading false news. He was added to case 5606/2018, in which he is charged with joining a terrorist group in addition to spreading false news. Since then, the Mansoura Criminal Court has continuously renewed his detention every 45 days.
On 21 December 2020, the Supreme State Security Prosecution included him in state security case 467/2020, in which he faces further charges of joining a terrorist group and committing a crime for financing terrorism. On 27 January 2021, the prosecutor ordered his release in case 5606/2018 on a bail of 10,000 EGP (around 550 EUR) after more than two years spent in pre–trial detention. However, on 8 February 2021 he was investigated in a new case 4118/2018 where he faces similar charges and the Prosecutor decided to hold him in pre–trial detention for 15 days. His pre–trial detention has been continuously renewed. He has gone on hunger strikes several times to protest his detention conditions. On 14 September 2022, a court decided to release him, but the decision was appealed and won by the prosecution.
Hamdi Mokhtar Al–Zaeem, a photojournalist known publicly as Hamdi Al–Zaeem, was arrested outside Journalists Syndicate’s building in Cairo in September 2016. He has repeatedly been detained and released with precautionary measures over the past six years. In 2018, Al–Zaeem was released from a two–year pre–trial detention. He continued to be subjected to precautionary measures. In early 5 January 2021, Al-Zaeem was again arrested after being released with precautionary measures. He was then transferred to the Abbassia Chest Disease Hospital for developing diabetes symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19. On 16 January 2021, he was summoned to appear before the prosecution pending case 955 of 2020 on the same grounds. Prosecutors have repeatedly extended Al-Zaeem’s detention term despite the deteriorating condition of his health.
On 17 September 2022, the State Security Prosecution ordered the detention of political activist Sherif Al–Roubi in connection with Case No. 1634 of 2022 on charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news. Sherif was released by the same prosecution on 31 May 2022 after spending nearly 18 months in pre–trial detention between December 2020 and May 2022 pending Case No. 1111 of 2020. He was previously imprisoned pending other cases in 2016 and in April 2018 (Case 621/2018) on the same accusations. Al–Roubi was questioned about his Facebook posts regarding enforced disappearances, the recent wave of releases and the unbearable circumstances he faced after his release (his economic situation and the difficulties he was facing to find a job).
Human Rights lawyer, used to work for the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and defence lawyer of Mohamed Oxygen. He was arrested on 24 March 2022, forcibly disappeared for two days, then reappeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on 26 March 2022, in case 330/2022 on accusations of joining an illegal group and spreading false news inside and outside Egypt. He was asked on posts he wrote on his social media platforms about the detention conditions in Tora prison area. He was ordered to be held in pre–trial detention pending investigations.