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Security forces raid Egyptian rights group's offices arresting 15 activists

An image from the protest in solidarity with Mahinour El-Massry after which ECESR's offices were raided and activists arrested
An image from the protest in solidarity with Mahinour El-Massry after which ECESR's offices were raided and activists arrested

Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights/Facebook

On 22 May 2014, Egyptian security forces, alongside security personnel dressed in civilian attire, raided the Alexandria branch of the Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights (ECESR) arresting 15 activists, including two minors and two ECESR staff and confiscating several computers and documents.

The undersigned organizations condemn the storming of ECESR noting that such an attack has been expected amidst the growing incitement and the defamation campaigns being carried out in the media against human rights organizations and human rights defenders in Egypt.

Those arrested were taken to the Alexandria Security Department where they were held, until released hours later.

The raid took place while a press conference was being held in solidarity with imprisoned lawyer and labour activist Mahinour El-Massry, who was sentenced to two years in prison on charges of protesting. El-Massry's appeal was recently rejected, and her sentence was reaffirmed.

The undersigned organizations express deep concerns about the sexual harassment and molestation of females attending the press conference at the hands of security forces, which can only be considered as an attempt to discourage females from participating in the public space.

The aforementioned press conference is part of ECESR's ongoing campaign against the protest law, which was issued by Beblawi's government in November 2013. It also comes in light of ECESR's ongoing court case, disputing the constitutionality of the aforementioned protest law.

It is noteworthy to mention that this is the second raid on ECESR premises in the past 6 months, and the third since January 2011.

This raid comes in light of a systematic and widespread crackdown carried out by the interim regime of 3 July on human rights defenders, in an attempt to silence the voices of those speaking out against human rights violations committed by the security state, and demanding justice and fair compensation to victims of human rights violations.

Notably, this raid comes a few days before the presidential elections in Egypt, scheduled May 26 and 27, a period expected to enjoy more freedom of expression. Instead, the raid that targeted ECESR only reflects a repressive atmosphere, and rising threats to the existence and functioning of civil society organizations, impeding them from executing their key role in Egypt's transition.

The undersigned organizations request the immediate release of all those detained and arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and calls for a speedy end to these unfair practices, including the police harassment of civil society organizations and human rights defenders. The state should stop targeting human rights defenders and restricting their work. We call for immediate investigations into the sexual harassment that women faced at the premises of ECESR at the hands of security forces.

Finally, the undersigned organizations articulate that they will take all legal measures against those responsible for the raid of the ECESR office, and will register a complaint to the High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as the relevant United Nations Special Rapporteurs.

Signatories:

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Al-Nadim Center

Nazra for Feminist Studies

Hisham Mubarak Law Center

New Woman Foundation

Andalus institute for tolerance & Anti-violence studies

National Community for Human Rights and law

Egyptian Foundation for Advancement of Childhood Conditions

Center for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Security Forces raid ECESR’s headquarters in Alexandria and attack activists, including ANHRI’s lawyers

    Mohamed Ramadan and Mohamed Hafez, lawyers of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in Alexandria, were among the detainees, in addition to human rights activists and politicians; including Mohamed Mokhtar, Hesham Essam, Essam Mahdi, Metry Gaberial and others.

  • Raid on Egyptian human rights NGO another blow to civil society

    “The raid on the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the arrest of four of its employees, and the seizure of its property, is another demonstration that the Egyptian government is not interested in any transition to democracy,” said Charles Dunne, director of Middle East programs at Freedom House. “The Egyptian government should cease such raids, free those arrested, and respect basic rights including the freedoms of association and speech.”

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