Posts Tagged ‘Mona Seif’

Helen Hunt joins list of celebrities that show insensitivity on human rights

November 10, 2017

Celebrity support for human rights can do much good but there are still too many who simply do not study the issue before accepting. [see: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/02/28/and-the-nominees-are-oscars-for-human-rights/]. Two days ago Brian Rohan of Associated Press, reported that actress Helen Hunt just added her name to the list of ignoramuses (“Egyptian activists pan US actress Helen Hunt in open letter”  – 7 November, 2017).

5  November 2017: image taken from video, showing actress Helen Hunt speaking during a government-organized youth conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (AP Photo /CAPITAL BROADCAST CENTER)
Egyptian activists condemned American actress Helen Hunt on Tuesday for her participation in a government-organized youth conference they say is whitewashing authorities’ appalling human rights record and suppression of free speech. The open letter by Mona Seif and other well-known human rights advocates gained nearly 300 signatures by Tuesday afternoon. They included Mohamed Zaree, who last month won the Martin Ennals Award, and Aida Seif el-Dawla, whose Nadeem Center treats victims of torture and trauma and was shuttered by the government earlier this year.

The letter follows a flurry of online criticism against this week’s “World Youth Forum,” hosted under the patronage of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, 62, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Hunt, 54, was a keynote speaker at the opening ceremony. The event’s official Twitter hashtag #WeNeedToTalk has become a battleground for opposing viewpoints, with critics overwhelming the thread with images of Egyptian police beating and chasing down youths during el-Sissi’s rule alongside portraits of young jailed activists.

This isn’t just any forum that you chose to endorse,” the letter to Hunt read. “This is a youth forum with the slogan ‘We Need To Talk’ called for by a dictator who cannot stand any form of opposition or real criticism. He jails journalists for doing their jobs, youth for expressing their opinions, writers for writing fiction that violates ‘public morality,’ gays for coming out, supporters of LGBTQ for daring to support diversity, and he has blocked more than 400 different websites and media platforms.

Human rights defenders and their organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have documented enforced disappearances, widespread torture and a recent arrest campaign targeting people authorities believe are gay. The authorities have blocked hundreds of independent news and critical websites.[see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/tag/egypt/]

The forum, which lasts until Nov. 10, has been broadcast nearly all day long on state and private television since its opening ceremony Sunday night. It has been widely promoted with slick television ads in Egypt, where several major Western PR firms advise and work for the government. A giant billboard hovers over Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicenter of the youth-led 2011 uprising.

Hunt, an Academy Award-winning actress who now directs films, delivered a speech Sunday in which she criticized the U.S. justice system for its high incarceration rates and voiced support for the online anti-sexual harassment movement #MeToo. That, however, did not deflect criticism from Seif and other Egyptian feminists. “Unbelievable Hypocrisy! @Helenhunt speaks of “Women Rights” in a PR circus for a general who justified forced virginity tests,” Seif tweeted, referring to the military’s “virginity tests” conducted on a group of women protesters detained in 2011. El-Sissi, who was the chief of military intelligence at the time, was quoted then as saying the tests were necessary to head off possible allegations that the women were sexually assaulted by soldiers.

Others accused Hunt, the most famous Western celebrity at the event, of selling out to el-Sissi, pointing out a string of websites that advertise her as a for-hire speaker with fees between $50,000 to $1 million. Hunt did not respond to a social media request to discuss her efforts in Egypt.

http://ktul.com/news/entertainment/egyptian-activists-pan-us-actress-helen-hunt-in-open-letter

https://egyptianstreets.com/2017/11/08/egyptian-rights-activists-slam-us-actress-helen-hunt-in-open-letter/

Veteran human rights defender Ahmed Seif Al Islam dies in Egypt

August 29, 2014

On 21 August I reported on the travails of an Egyptian family of human rights defenders [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/an-exceptional-egyptian-family-of-human-rights-defenders/], a week later Mona Seif’s father has died. Ahmed Seif Al Islam was a veteran Egyptian lawyer, activist and former political prisoner. Arrested and tortured by State Security Investigations officers in 1983 for his political activity, he served five years in prison. Founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, which since 2008 has been providing legal assistance to protesters. The Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC ) monitored state violence during the 2011 protests, and became a gathering place for human rights activists during the revolution. Ahmed Seif was arrested by Military Intelligence with his staff at the height of the protests.
Seif, a human rights lawyer, was on the legal defense team in numerous high-profile trials of human rights, labor, and more broadly political activists in the Hosni Mubarak years, but he was above all an activist himself. The was more often than not the coordinating center for planning peaceful demonstrations and then, invariably, for deploying lawyers to various detention centers in response to the usual mass arrests that followed such events.In a conversation I had with Seif several years ago, in February 2007, he told me how he became engaged in human rights activism and lawyering:

Read the rest of this entry »

An exceptional Egyptian family of human rights defenders

August 21, 2014

The family of MEA 2013 Final Nominee, Mona Seif, continues to be under the greatest strain in Egypt. Front Line Defenders reports that on 18 August 2014, her brother, human rights defender Mr Alaa Abd El Fattah, began a hunger strike to protest his detention [http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/AlaaAbdElFattah] and said that he will remain on hunger strike until he is released. Her sister human rights defender Ms Sanaa Seif also continues to be imprisoned. [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/26336]. Her father, human rights defender Ahmed Seif El-Islam is in the Intensive Care Unit of Qasr el-Eini hospital. Her family had tried several times to visit the father, but in vain.

Egypt: Extended detention of human rights defenders protesting the “Protests Law”

June 24, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedreports that 0n 23 June 2014, the Public Prosecutor in Egypt ordered that the detention of human rights defenders Ms Yara Sallam and Ms Sanaa Seif be extended by four days. The day before, the human rights defenders were accused of breaching the ‘Protests Law’ by demonstrating without a permit, committing acts of violence, possession of inflammable material and Molotov cocktails, blocking a road, sabotaging public and private property, and belonging to the banned group ‘April 6’. The human rights defenders were among 24 persons arrested on 21 June 2014 during a demonstration against the ‘Protests Law’.

Yara Sallam is a human rights researcher who currently works with the NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). She is also the winner of the African Shield Human Rights Defenders   in 2013. Sanaa Seif is a student who has participated in previous protests in the defence of human rights. The human rights defender was arbitrarily detained during Magles El Wuzara events on 16 December 2011, and was released on the same day. Sanaa Seif is also the sister of human rights defender Mr Alaa Abd El Fattah, who was sentenced in absentia on 11 June 2014 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/26164 and of Mona Seif, MEA Nominee of 2013 (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/egyptian-hrd-and-mea-nominee-mona-seif-under-attack/)

Twenty-three of the individuals arrested at the protest have had their detention extended by four days and one was released on bail. A decision on whether to charge the human rights defenders is expected shortly. The human rights defenders’ lawyer, Mr Mohamed Khedr, has highlighted inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses for the prosecution, as well as within the police’s own statements. In particular, the police secretary accused the protesters of damaging a police vehicle at 9:30pm on 21 June 2014, despite the demonstrators having been arrested at 5:30pm that day outside a kiosk when they were not present at the protest, and a police report having been filed against them at 9:30pm. The police found no inflammable objects within the possession of the demonstrators.

The human rights defenders are two of several Egyptian human rights defenders, such as Maheinour Al Masry <http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/25996> , who have been targeted through the ‘Protests Law’ (Law no 107 of 2013 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations). The law was approved on 24 November 2013 by interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour and has been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai.

Egyptian court upholds restrictive law and severe sentences of 3 human rights defenders

April 10, 2014

On Monday 7 April, an appeals court in Cairo, Egypt, upheld the 3-year prison sentences for three pro-democracy activists on charges of unlawfully organizing a protest and assaulting security officers outside a court on November 30, 2013. The verdict against Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, and Mohamed Adel marks the first usage of the new restrictive law. [None of the three activists were involved in any violence that took place when clashes broke out during the protests. Maher and Douma were inside the courthouse when scuffles ensued, and a police officer attested to the fact that Adel was attempting to pacify protesters.]
for background see:
https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/12/06/mona-seif-reports-on-crackdown-in-egypt-including-her-brothers-case/#more-4139

 

Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights raided by police, just now

December 19, 2013

Mona Seif, Egyptian human rights defender and Final Nominee of the MEA 2013 reported today 19 December, at 12h00 that “less than an hour ago the Police raided the NGO Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, founded by former presidential candidate Khaled Ali, and arrested Mostafa Eissa (an employee in their media unit) and 2 volunteers, as well as confiscated all computers of the media unit. We haven’t been able to know where were they taken to.”

Mona Seif reports on crackdown in Egypt including her brother’s case

December 6, 2013

By Mona Seif, founder of ‘No to Military Trials for Civilians’ and Final Nominee 2013 of the MEA reports in some detail the following:

Egyptian Activists Arrested in Growing Crackdown – Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah one of at least 27 people currently charged under Egypt’s new anti-protest law

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013

Egypt is facing a growing crackdown on political protest and dissent. This week has seen the arrest of 27 political activists under the cover of a new law designed to effectively ban protest in Egypt. On November 26th the well-known and internationally respected activist group, No to Military Trials for Civilians, called for a demonstration in front of the Shoura Council (the Upper House of the Egyptian parliament) to protest the failure of the current draft constitution to legislate against the military court martials of civilians. The entirely peaceful protest was met with serious force by the police, who attacked demonstrators with a water cannon and tear gas while arresting as many people as they could. At least 51 people were arrested that day. Read the rest of this entry »

latest news: Mona Seif released

November 27, 2013

Update on my post earlier today: I have just learned that Mona Seif – MEA Final Nominee 2013 – was released a few hours ago.

Pillay criticizes new anti-demonstration law in Egypt and …Mona Seif is arrested

November 27, 2013

(High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/Sarah Fretwell)

 

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had hardly pronounced herself on the new ‘demonstrations law’ in Egypt, issued on Sunday, and a number of high-profile demonstrators was arrested. Yesterday Mona Seif, the MEA Nominee of 2013, and a group of other human rights defenders were arrested when they were protesting in-front of the Shura Council against the suggested constitutional article that guarantees the continues referral of civilians to military trials. Observers believe that the authorities want to send a message in the context of the new law referred to above. Read the rest of this entry »

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE 2013 CEREMONY OF THE MEA ALREADY ON VIMEO

October 10, 2013

24 hours after the event, those who missed the 2013 ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders can already see the highlights on Vimeo.  Gives absolutely good impression of the impressive evening.