Monday 25 April: what will happen in Egypt?

April 25, 2016

Brian Dooley, Director of Human Rights First’s Human Rights Defenders Program, wrote in the Huffington Post that today, Monday 25 April 2016, could be a watershed day for Egypt‘s military leader. This day is a national holiday Egypt which marks the 1982 withdrawal of Israeli troops from Sinai. President Sisi‘s agreement to hand over the two uninhabited islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia may put a spark into the constantly simmering discontent in the human rights movement.

When the decision was announced last week over one hundred were arrested and demonstrators were tear gassed by police. Most ominously for Sisi, protesters chanted the 2011 phrase “The people demand the downfall of the regime” in an echo of the mass uprising which toppled President Mubarak in 2011. The authorities, clearly worried that Monday will see a repeat of street protests, have reacted by arresting people in Alexandria, Upper Egypt and randomly in Cairo cafes believed to be fashionable with activists.

Some human rights defenders are taking precautionary measures out of fear of being arrested or disappeared. The Cairo-based NGO the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, which has documented hundreds of disappearance cases in the last year, has closed its head office temporarily and relocated to a secret location to carry out its work. An arrest warrant was issued for prominent human rights lawyer Malek Adly on Saturday April 23. “Monday might not be much in itself, but it could snowball,” said one activist.

Due to heavy security measures Monday could turn out to be a non-event, but recent action indicates a state of nervousness by the regime [see also:]:

  • Human rights defender Yasser El-Qot is being held in detention on suspicion of distributing fliers calling for protests on Monday.
  • Sanna Seif, who was released from prison in September 2015 after more than a year in jail for peaceful dissent, has been summoned to report to the South Cairo prosecution on April 27 on the same charges as El-Qot.
  • Egypt’s security services are under increasing pressure to explain the death of Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose tortured body was found in early February
  • The British government’s foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) has for the first time criticised the “poor” and “deteriorating” human rights situation in Egypt. The FCO’s human rights report noted that Egypt faces a significant terrorist threat, resulting in at least 366 deaths, but still pointed out that the human rights situation remained “poor” and “continued to deteriorate” last year “Although 2015 saw pardons for a small number of prisoners,” …, “Egypt continued to detain activists, journalists and protesters.”
  • Front Line Defenders reported on 22 April that on 20 April 2016, an investigating judge ordered to expand the asset freezing case list to prominent Egyptian human rights defender Mr Bahey Eldin Hassan, his wife and daughter, two staff members of Cairo Institute For Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), human rights defenders Mr Mostafa Al Hassan and Mr Abdel Hafez Tayel. This development is related to the foreign funding case which recently reopened in Egypt. On the same day, the Cairo Criminal Court in Zeinhom postponed the asset freeze hearing of Mr Hossam Bahgat, Mr Gamal Eid and other human rights defenders, charged for “using foreign funding to foment unrest”. This is following a request to freeze their personal funds and family assets. If charged, the human rights defenders could each face up to twenty-five years imprisonment under the Egyptian penal code. []
  • Forty-one Egyptian organisations have been included in the foreign funding case, also known as Case No. 173, with some of their leaders and staff members being summoned <>  on charges including “receipt of illegal foreign funding” and “working without legal permission”. In March 2016, four human rights defenders and their families were informed that an order had been made for the freezing of their money and properties. These include Hossam Bahgat , founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), and currently a journalist at the independent news service Mada Masr, reporting extensively on army and military trials in Egypt, and Gamal Eid, founder and director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Two staff members of CIHRS and three staff members from Nazra for Feminist Studies were also summoned to appear for questioning. The trial has been postponed by the Cairo Criminal Court in Zeinhom until 23 May 2016, pending further investigation.
  • On 20 April 2016 even the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced he is closely following the judicial proceedings in Egypt against a number of civil society organizations and human rights defenders. On 11 ~April three UN human rights experts urged Egypt to cease its ongoing crackdown on humans rights defenders and organizations. They stated that Egypt is failing in its international responsibility to provide a safe and enabling environment for civil society in the country. The experts added that the Egyptian government must immediately put an end to all forms of persecution and take effective measures to protect members of human rights organizations, specifically members of Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the United Group – Attorneys at Law and Legal Advisors, who have been subject to interrogation and threatened with arrest warrants and prosecutions.
  • Two more 2016 reports by NGOs are to be found in the links below.


Is Monday the Beginning of the End for Sisi in Egypt?


2 Responses to “Monday 25 April: what will happen in Egypt?”

  1. […] Egypt’s Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies, ‘for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination’. [see also:] […]

  2. […] Also last week, Rome prosecutors formally placed four high-ranking members of Egypt’s security forces under investigation over the death of Giulio Regeni, whose 2016 killing strained relations between Rome and Cairo and galvanized Italy’s human rights community. [see also: […]

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