The ICJ today called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defenders Gasser Abdel-Razek, Mohamed Bashseer and Karim Ennarah.
The detainees, senior staffers of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a leading human rights organization, were targeted in connection with their human rights work.
The arrests are part of a broader, relentless campaign by the military and government to intimidate and silence civil society organizations, including through such means as trumped-up “terrorism” charges and sham judicial proceedings.
“By arresting Mohamed Bashseer, Karim Ennarah and Gasser Abdel-Razek, and charging them with terrorism-related offences, the Egyptian government led by President Al-Sisi are writing a new, terrifying chapter in their repression playbook,” said Said Benarbia, Director of ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“Their crackdown on independent civil society must end.”
On 19 November 2020, Gasser Abdel-Razek, EIPR’s Executive Director, was arrested by security forces from his home in Maadi, Cairo. He appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) and charged in case No. 855/2020 with, among other charges, “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news.”
On 15 November 2020, EIPR’s Administrative Manager Mohamed Bashseer, was arrested at his house in Cairo. On 17 November 2020, Karim Ennarah, EIPR’s director of the criminal justice programme, was also arrested.
They both face similar charges in the same case No. 855/2020, together with other numerous lawyers and human rights defenders, including Mohamed El-Baqer and Mahienour al-Massry.
Over the past seven years, EIPR has been subjected to a pattern of harassment and persecution by the military and government.
On February 2020, Patrick George Zaki, an EIPR researcher, was arrested at Cairo Airport by National Security Agency officers who reportedly subjected him to torture, including with electric shocks. He was charged by a public prosecutor with, among other charges, “spreading false news” and “inciting protest without authorization”. He remains in custody
The recent arrests of the three senior EIPR officials follow a visit by a number of European ambassadors and other diplomats to the EIPR Cairo offices on 3 November 2020, during which the human rights situation in Egypt was discussed.
“The international community and in particular States engaging in political and security cooperation with Al-Sisi’s regime must not overlook the serious violations against human rights defenders taking place in the country,” added Benarbia.
“They should demand an end to these violations and ensure that individuals and independent human rights groups are able to do their legitimate and critical human rights work freely and without intimidation.”
Said Benarbia, Director, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +41-22-979-3817; e: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
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