Egypt: Rights groups call for immediate release of protesters, political party leaders, and presidential candidates
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UN must be invited to investigate the situation in Egypt
The brutal crackdown by Egyptian state security, which in the last few days was marked by the arrests of nearly 2000 people – including peaceful demonstrators, political leaders, rights activists, journalists, and lawyers – constitutes a flagrant violation of the right to free expression and peaceful protest, and a weapon of intimidation against political and human rights advocacy and any attendant media and legal support. The outbreak of protests on Friday evening September 20th is a manifestation of swelling popular anger against the Sisi government’s brutal authoritarian practices, including its monopolization of the media and its suppression – through state violence, prosecution, and intimidation – of all platforms for peaceful expression and independent political activity. The protests also are a reaction to the president’s accumulated policies since his assumption of office, which have achieved neither political nor economic stability but has only served to tighten the government’s authoritarian stranglehold.
Concurrently with the unprecedented state repression they face, Egyptians suffer from direly deteriorating economic conditions and record-breaking poverty rates ensuing from the government’s austerity measures: measures passed at the same time the president, his administration is being exposed by serious allegations of corruption that are not being investigated.
With Egypt on the threshold of further bloodshed and chaos, the undersigned organizations make the following demands, in order to move away from this threshold while moving toward the democratic aspirations of the January 25, 2011, revolution.
Immediately release all political party activists and first- and second-tier party leaders—including the presidents of the Strong Egypt, Dustour, and Istiqlal parties and secretaries, representatives, and presidents of the Popular Alliance, Karama, Social Democratic, Istiqlal, and Strong Egypt parties—and end the relentless campaigns of intimidation and prosecution against political parties that began in full force when the current president assumed power.
Immediately release all those arrested for their participation in the last presidential elections, including military and civilian leaders opposed to the current presidential administration, starting with former presidential candidates General Sami Anan and Colonel Ahmed Qunsuwa, as well as Judge Hisham Genena, the Human Rights Affairs Deputy in Anan’s campaign, and Dr. Hazem Hosni, the spokesman in Anan’s campaign, and lift the house arrest of General Ahmed Shafiq.
Guarantee the constitutional right to express one’s opinion through various platforms, including online platforms, without intimidation or reprisal; guarantee the constitutional right to demonstrate; and suspend the enforcement of the long-repealed, colonial era Assembly Law.
Lift the block on 103 news websites, end the partial or attempted block of social media, and stop surveillance of citizens’ personal online accounts and reprisals against individuals for peacefully expressing opinions.
Invite UN special rapporteurs working in human rights areas—torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial execution, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and protection of human rights defenders—to visit Egypt to assess the state of human rights and submit their reports and recommendations to the pertinent UN bodies and the Egyptian government for necessary action.
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
The Egyptian Front for Human Rights
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Committee for Justice (CFJ)