Sisi’s Egypt: International community should pressure Egypt to immediately cease new wave of repression

Press release
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Paris ― With demonstrations set to take place today in Egypt, FIDH and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) fear that demonstrators may face intensified repression and be confronted with lethal force by the authorities, in the wake of a largely silent, if not indifferent, reaction from the international community to recent violent interventions by the Egyptian security forces. We reiterate the collective warning of Egyptian human rights groups that further bloodshed and chaos in the country is likely in the absence of any form of accountability demanded from the Egyptian government by the international community.

On the evening of 20 September, protests erupted throughout Egypt despite a six-year ban on demonstration. The protests, which took place in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and El-Mahalla, were sparked by allegations of corruption from private military contractor Mohamed Ali, who disclosed cases of corruption involving President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and high-ranking army officials in viral videos seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers across the country. The following evening, protesters gathered again in several cities and were met by police officers firing live ammunition and rubber bullets, according to witnesses. Since then, repression has continued to worsen.

The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights reports that more than 2,000 people, including minors, have been arrested across 20 provinces and that demonstrators have been beaten and tear-gassed. Hundreds of them have been forcibly disappeared by security forces and have not yet appeared before a court.

In an apparent attempt to deter further demonstrations through fear and intimidation, Egyptian authorities have arrested or disappeared many citizens active in Egypt’s public life, including at least five media workers, ten peaceful opposition party representatives from across the political spectrum, lawyers, journalists, and human rights defenders. Prominent among those arrested are human rights defender Mahienour el-Massry, former head of the liberal el-Dostour party Khaled Dawoud, and political science professors Hazem Hosny and Hassan Nafea.

The escalating political violence emerged during President Sisi’s visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly. Given US President Donald Trump’s characterization of Sisi as his "favorite dictator," it comes as no surprise that he was quoted as saying “Egypt has a great leader. He’s highly respected."

Many world leaders have thus far failed to voice public criticism or denounce the recent spate of state violence against demonstrators in Egypt, including French Foreign Minister Le Drian, who paid a courtesy visit to Egypt a week ago.

We strongly condemn the enforced disappearances, mass arbitrary arrests and judicial harassment of peaceful protesters and human rights defenders. We urgently call on the international community to strongly condemn the repression and urge the Egyptian authorities to:

• Cease the systematic practices of arbitrary arrests and excessively long pretrial detentions, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;
• Immediately and unconditionally free all persons, including human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, and professors, currently detained in Egypt for having exercised their constitutionally-protected rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association;
• Put an end to the campaign of criminalization of all forms of dissent, and of harassment intimidation, and prosecution of any person critical of the government or perceived as such.
• Immediately investigate the alleged acts of corruption by the president, his family and the military establishment, and release a transparent summary of the investigation to the national and international public.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Samuel Hanryon (English, French): +336 72 28 42 94 /

CIHRS: Leslie Piquemal (English, French, Arabic): +32474508271 /

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