Stop Persecuting Human Rights Groups

While hundreds of thousands of pro democracy protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo Egypt demanding Hosni Mubarak step down from office immediately, a smaller number, about 500 people, gathered outside the State Library in Melbourne where protesters heard from a number of speakers including Kevin Bracken, President of the Victorian Trades Hall Council, Greens MP Colleen Hartland, and speakers from the muslim and egyptian communities.

Target: President of Egypt Abdel Fattah El-Sisi

Goal: Stop persecuting feminists, civil rights advocates, and other human rights leaders.

Egypt has recently escalated its persecution of human rights defenders. Authorities have begun to freeze activists’ personal funds and family assets along with banning them from traveling. They have been forcing people such as feminist leaders, civil rights lawyers, and journalists to appear in front of investigative judges for questioning. The Human Rights Watch Deputy Middle East Director Nadim Houry stated that, “The Egyptian authorities have moved beyond scaremongering and are now rapidly taking concrete steps to shut down the last critical voices in the country’s human rights community.” This crackdown on activists is a clear attack by the government on people who they see as a threat. We must stand with Egypt’s human rights leaders so that their voices are not silenced.

The government is summoning these people to court on charges of “receipt of illegal foreign funding” and “working without legal permission.” These laws that the activists are accused of violating were clearly put into place to limit how effectively human rights groups could operate. What is especially concerning is that most of the groups being targeted are not even direct threats to the government. For example, one of the organizations that was persecuted was a group called Nazra For Feminist Studies, a group with the aim of creating a stronger feminist movement through legal and psychological interventions.

These forms of harassment against humans rights organizations is a threat to Egyptian citizens through taking away the power of the people and instead serving to protect the government. We demand that president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his government put an end this persecution of people who are merely standing up for their human rights.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President El-Sisi,

Your attack on human rights organizations is an indicator that you are trying to get rid of people who are standing up for both themselves and their communities. Some of the actions you have taken, such as banning people from traveling, shows that you see these people as a threat. It is clear that you do not want the human rights violations within your country to become international headlines.

You have even issued a “Gag order” which prohibits media outlets from publishing anything on the case other than statements issued by the judges until the investigations are complete. This violates the right to freedom of expression, something that is vital to Egypt’s constitution and international law. All of these limitations on human rights activities and reporters seem to be issued because you and your government are concerned with any sort of conflict between you and your people, yet, this unwarranted persecution will only make your citizens more upset.

Not only will it make your people upset, but your attack on human rights has began to grab the attention of the rest of the world. We demand that you end this persecution, and allow your people to advocate for human rights without fearing for their lives.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: John Englart

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