Human Rights Chair Löning: Spirit of Tahrir crushed as looming Egyptian election sees el-Sisi step-up repression

Harassment of Egyptian civil society and the throttling of political opponents of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is intensifying as the presidential elections next month draw closer.

Ahmed Abd Ramo, Secretary General of the Liberal Youth Forum and member of the political bureau of the Free Egyptians Party was seized and interrogated by the Egyptian police 23rd January 2018. He was in the Asyut region collecting signatures for presidential candidate Sami Anan when he was beaten and taken from his hotel room. He was then interrogated for six hours and finally dropped off in the desert. Fortunately he was able to survive and find a safe haven.

Hossam Eldin Aly, president of the Egyptian Democratic Academy, has not been able to leave Egypt for more than 1,000 days. Like scores of other directors of Egyptian non-governmental organisations, today Mr Aly lives with a travel ban – imposed by the government – for building bridges between the NGO movement in Egypt and the outside world. It is for this reason that he was unable to join us at the 199th LI Executive Committee in Johannesburg, South Africa.

More than 60, 000 people remain in jail and hundreds have been forcefully detained and tortured for daring to publicly criticize the government of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with little or no hope of an impartial judicial process.

Arbitrary travel bans, along with asset freezes, have been weaponized by the government to impose restrictions on basic human rights such freedom of movement and freedom of expression, association and assembly. For the last 18 months, the ban on travel has been transformed from a precautionary measure issued by judicial order to an arbitrary punishment used to restrict democracy activists. Most of the affected activists have never been summoned for interrogation nor had the cases against them heard. These malicious restrictions directly contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

The Human Rights Committee of Liberal International insists on legislative changes that remove all restrictions on freedom of speech, association, and assembly, in compliance with the basic values of the 2011 revolution and the international conventions of which Egypt is signatory.

Further, I strongly condemn the use of travel bans, asset freezes, and arbitrary detentions of civil society and human rights activists, independent journalists, and members of the opposition in Egypt, and urge the government to put an end to these illegal practices.

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