After the Arrest of EIPR’s Executive Director: We are proud of our defence of rights of Egyptians and call on all those keen on human rights in Egypt and the world to show Solidarity
In a new escalation of the unprecedented crackdown against the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, security forces arrested Gasser Abdel Razek, Executive Director of EIPR, from his home in Maadi and took him to an undisclosed location.
Security forces in the afternoon of Wednesday, 18 November, also arrested Karim Ennarah, EIPR’s Criminal Justice Unit Director, in Dahab, South Sinai, where he was on a short vacation. The arrest took place one day after security forces went to his home in Cairo in his absence. After being questioned at a State Security premise outside Cairo, and after 24 hours had passed, Karim appeared this afternoon on Thursday 19 November before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo.
He was questioned for four hours before the prosecution ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigations in the case 855/2020, charged with the following:
- Joining a terrorist group with knowledge of its purposes;
- Using a personal account on the internet to spread false information that undermine public security
- And broadcasting false news and statements that undermine public security and harm public interest.
These accusations were based on what preliminary investigations described as "participation and agreement with a group of agitators inside the prisons with the aim of spreading rumors that would disturb peace and public security."
This development took place following the arrest of Muhammad Bashir, the administrative director at EIPR, at dawn on Sunday, November 15th, and following his questioning before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, which charged him with several charges, including “joining a terrorist group” and “committing one of the terrorism financing crimes” and ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigations after adding him to the same Case No. 855/2020. All this unfolds in conjunction with a coordinated smear campaign by a number of state-owned media outlets, and others known for their proximity to security apparatus, aimed at distorting and misrepresenting EIPR’s work in the human rights field for nearly twenty years. The crackdown comprises slanderous accusations claiming EIPR aims to “undermine the bases of the Egyptian state and fight its stability.”
This attack comes as a clear and coordinated response to EIPR’s activism and work on a number of files, foremost of which is monitoring conditions in places of detention and prisons, especially under the COVID-19 pandemic, and its monitoring of the unprecedented surge in the issuance and execution of death sentences. This is in addition to EIPR’s work on monitoring and documenting incidents of sectarian violence and discrimination against women and all individuals and groups that differ from the prevailing and/or socially accepted religious views or sexual orientations and practices, as well as its pioneering research work on strengthening economic and social rights. In other words, ِEIPR is being targeted as a result of its efforts to defend the basic rights of Egyptians that are guaranteed by the constitution and by international treaties ratified by successive Egyptian governments.
The recent developments also come as a direct response to our activities in the field of international advocacy, and in particular our meetings with a number of diplomatic missions, the most recent of which was a meeting held at EIPR’s headquarters on November 3rd with 13 ambassadors and accredited diplomats, who discussed ways to improve human rights conditions in Egypt. This was not our first meeting and it will not be the last. Activities involving international advocacy and international support are an essential part of our work aimed at improving human rights conditions for all Egyptians, and they do not deviate from the legal and constitutional framework governing our work or the work of these missions.
EIPR has nothing to hide. We are deeply proud of our long record of activism in defending the rights of all Egyptians. Reaching out to all local and international parties to advocate improving human rights conditions is not an exceptional, strange or criminal activity. Indeed, the imprisonment of human rights defenders and those working in this field is in itself an attempt to conceal the reality of the escalating violations of these rights and the silencing of any independent and professional voice which seeks to uncover and document these violations. We stress that it is specifically these violations that represent the most dangerous assault on the “bases of the Egyptian State”, whereas the first article of its constitution provides for principles of “citizenship and the rule of law” as its bases.
EIPR preceives the arrest of its Executive Director Gasser Abdel Razek as an attempt to put an end to organised and legitimate human rights work in Egypt. We call on all institutions and individuals interested in improving and strengthening human rights conditions in Egypt and in the world to show solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in facing this attack for the purpose of defending what remains of the spaces to exercise constitutional freedoms and rights, after these spaces have greatly diminished in recent years due to restrictive legislation, security harassment, or state-sponsored smear campaigns. The first step to show solidarity is to use all means to demand the immediate release of Gasser Abdel-Razek and guarantee his personal safety as well as the immediate release of Muhammad Bashir and Karim Ennarah and drop all accusations against them.