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Freedom House condemns raids on NGOs

(Freedom House/IFEX) - Washington, December 29, 2011 - The raid of Freedom House's office and those of several other NGOs in Cairo by Egyptian security forces today constitutes an unprecedented assault on international civil society organizations and their local Egyptian partners. Freedom House strongly condemns the raid and calls for authorities to cease the unwarranted attacks and release confiscated property immediately.

This morning, Egyptian security forces raided the Cairo offices of Freedom House, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and at least two Egyptian organizations, the Arab Center for Independence of Justice and Legal Professions and the Budgetary and Human Rights Observatory. Staff members present at the Freedom House offices during the raids were held incommunicado; cell phones, laptops, funds and documents found during the raids were confiscated; and the office was closed. The raid on Freedom House comes just three days after it formally submitted papers to register its offices in accordance with Egyptian law.

"The raids today represent an escalation of repression unheard of even during the Mubarak regime," said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. "These actions come in the context of an intensive campaign by the Egyptian Government to dismantle civil society through a politically-motivated legal campaign aimed at preventing 'illegal foreign funding' of civil society operations in Egypt. It is the clearest indication yet that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military chiefs now ruling Egypt, has no intention of permitting the establishment of genuine democracy and is attempting to scapegoat civil society for its own abysmal failure to manage Egypt's transition effectively."

Freedom House calls on the Egyptian government to return confiscated property; permit the re-opening of all offices of non-governmental organizations closed in the recent raids; and allow the free and unfettered operation of local and international NGOs in Egypt as they work to expand respect for human rights and help the Egyptian people in their efforts to form a more just, open and democratic political system.

Freedom House also calls on the Obama Administration to scrutinize the $1.3 billion that the United States annually provides the Egyptian military to fund arms purchases and training.

"In the current fiscal environment, the United States must not subsidize authoritarianism in Egypt while the Egyptian government is preventing NGOs from implementing democracy and human rights projects subsidized by the US taxpayer," said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East and North Africa programs.

Egypt is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

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