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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Egypt detains human rights activists; Wikileaks explains

From Amnesty USA (h/t Zach N via Facebook)
Two Amnesty International representatives have been detained by police in Cairo after the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre was taken over by military police this morning.

Amnesty International USA called on President Obama to immediately demand the release of the Amnesty International staff members. In addition, we have asked for a meeting in Washington with the Egyptian ambassador to the United States.

The Amnesty International representatives were taken, along with Ahmed Seif Al Islam Khaled Ali, a delegate from Human Rights Watch, and others, to an unknown location in Cairo. Amnesty International does not know their current whereabouts.
There happened to be a couple of Wikileaks cables released today that talks about how Egypt treats NGOs.

From December 2007, about a meeting of HRW's Joe Stork with Egypt's state security service SSIS:

Stork told us that Abdel Rahman opened the ninety minute meeting by asking that the discussion be "informal" and "off the record." Substantively, Stork characterized Abdel Rahman's position as "we (SSIS) don't do bad things." Abdel Rahman said that he commands over 40,000 police officers and told Stork he could count on one hand the number who had committed abuses. Abdel Rahman objected to Stork's use of the word torture, saying it implied something "systemic" and said Egypt's security services were "badly maligned." Stork asked about the monitoring and harassment of NGOs, which Abdel Rahman said was necessary because such organizations are run by "anarchists" and people with prior arrests who need "monitoring."

And from May 2009:
The quasi-governmental organization, the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), released its 2008 human rights report on May 6, criticizing the GOE for specific violations and offering 25 recommendations.

The report criticizes the GOE for human rights violations such as restricting NGOs, continuing the emergency law and reacting violently to the April 2008 Mahalla strike. It also expresses concern over tensions between Christians and Muslims.

The most prominent of the 25 recommendations focus on ending the emergency law, combating torture, abolishing prison sentences as penalties for journalists, and easing restrictions on NGOs and political parties.

...Under the existing NGO law, the GOE is able to shut down NGOs, limit their activities and refuse to register them, and often utilizes these prerogatives.