By Kit Roberts
THE British government must press the Egyptian authorities in “the strongest possible way” following the detention of several human rights activists in the country, a Shadow Minister has told Redaction Politics.
Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has been accused of masterminding a fierce crackdown on any kind of opposition or dissent since taking power in a coup against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013.
Confidence in Egypt’s rule of law is once again dwindling with Sissi accused of an ‘unprecedented’ attack on human rights following the latest round-up of leading activists.
In an exclusive statement to Redaction Politics Wayne David MP, the UK’s Shadow Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Authorities in Egypt have embarked upon an unprecedented attack upon human rights. Three leading figures of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) have been arrested arbitrarily after the group held a briefing for 13 western diplomats, including the UK’s deputy Ambassador.
“Since their arrest there have been disturbing reports of the detainees being subjected to abuse in prison.
“I urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Mohamed Basheer, Karim Ennarah, Gasser Abdel-Razek and all those who are being detained without just cause.
“The UK government must press, in the strongest possible way, the Egyptian authorities to end this unacceptable action and take a fundamentally different course.”
The EU recently renewed sanctions against Egypt for one more year. The sanctions were first introduced in 2011 after long time dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled.
Egypt is currently going to the polls in elections for its lower house, with the second stage run-off held between December 7-8, with the final results to be declared on December 14.
Sisi recently introduced a referendum which could allow him to remain in office until 2030. Protests against his government have led to violent crackdowns, with protests in 2019 leading to the deaths of at least 27 people.
The government has also severely restricted the press, with several journalists being arrested, and critical figures being disappeared, and trials featuring vaguely worded “terrorism” charges becoming more common.
A spokesperson from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office told Redaction Politics: “The UK is deeply concerned about the arrest of 3 staff members from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR): Executive Director Gasser Abdel Razek, and employees Mohammed Basheer and Karim Ennarah.
“We have been in regular contact with the Egyptian authorities since the arrests took place, and the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has raised the issue directly with his Egyptian counterpart. We are working closely with partners in the international community who share our concerns.
“All human rights defenders should be able to work without fear of arrest or reprisals.”
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