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Thirty-six NGOs condemn the campaign waged by the authorities against civil society organisations

(CIHRS/IFEX) - 24 August 2011 - In a press conference sponsored by 36 Egyptian human rights organizations this morning at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the NGOs announced their condemnation of the fierce campaign waged by the government and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on civil society organizations and human rights groups.

Human rights organizations presented their statement at the press conference, declaring their position regarding these infringements, and voicing their demands to the relevant authorities, which includes, most importantly, a call for the dismissal of the Minister of Solidarity, Gouda Abdul-Khaliq, and the Minister of International Cooperation, Faiza Abul-Naga. The organizations also presented a complaint that they submitted to the relevant Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations and the African Commission for Human Rights in this regard.

The conference was attended by a large number of journalists, media professionals and artists concerned with the role of civil society in Egypt.

Mr. Bahey El-Din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, presented the NGOs' position towards the military council's and the Egyptian government's recent attacks against civil society, expressing resentment towards the ways in which SCAF and the Cabinet have been dealing with these organizations recently. The statements highlighted the restrictions imposed on the activities of civil society organizations, and denounced accusations of being foreign agents, and implementing foreign agendas, being levelled against NGOs. Such accusations are seen as a direct response to criticism, brought forward by independent human rights organizations, of the human rights violations occurring in post-Mubarak Egypt.

Ahmed Ragheb, director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, declared that the number of military trials of civilians that have been held since SCAF took office has reached 12,000 for the past 6 months alone, noting that during the 30 years of Mubarak's rule they numbered 10,000. He further stated that violations being committed now will dictate Egypt's future and whether it would find its way towards a true transition to democracy or back to a situation worse than the previous one.

Ahmed Fawzi, director of the Democracy Project at the Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement, demanded an official apology from the government regarding the defamation campaign waged against civil society organizations. Moreover, Hafez Abu Saada, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, considered the position taken by SCAF and the Cabinet to be against the rule of law, stating that such a position is not new and was adopted by the previous government as early as the eighties, ever since the creation of human rights organizations.

Khaled Ali, director of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, stressed that the defamation campaign aims to silence civil society organizations in the lead up to SCAF's seizing of power, stating his refusal of attempts made at monopolizing patriotism and defaming civil society actors who stood against Mubarak and his policies of privatization of state institutions, as well as against military trials of civilians out of the belief that their primary mission is to protect the Egyptian people.

Negad El-Boraei, President of the United Group, referred to an alliance being built between the military council and fundamentalists to crush the calls made for a civil state.

Regarding steps taken by these organizations, Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said that the NGOs will not give up demanding legal accountability from the Cabinet and SCAF, with respect to the crimes committed against human rights.

In response to questions from the audience on the issue of funding, Hafez Abu Saada said that there are full bank statements detailing the transactions of a large number of organizations and revealing their accounts and funding.

Khaled Ali pointed out that the Ministry of Solidarity has no stance regarding the funding of such organizations, as the ministry does not take a decision on this matter before consulting with State Security authorities. He added that the problem for the government and the military council lies not in the funding, but rather in the outcome of it, namely constant criticism of the policies adopted and human rights violations committed by both the Cabinet and SCAF.

Click below to download the complaint submitted to the UN Special Rapporteurs:
CIHRS_ANRHI_EOHR_UN_Complaint.doc (56 KB)

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