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Monday, January 24, 2022

Egypt jails 3 human rights activists

Cairo – An Egyptian court sentenced three prominent human rights figures to several years in prison on Monday for spreading false news in a high-profile case that suggests the government has not rolled back its crackdown on dissent.

The state security emergency rape court sentenced activist Ala Abd al Fattah to five years in prison and rights lawyer Mohamed al-Bakr and blogger Mohamed Ibrahim, better known as Mohamed Oxygen, to four years, Mr. Abd al-Fattah’s The mother, Leila Souf, confirmed Monday from the courtroom.

Local and international rights groups have called the allegations politically motivated. The decision cannot be appealed. The government of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, which took power in 2014, has recently tried to repair its image on human rights, recognizing that international criticism of its record hurts its diplomatic status and economic interests. It announced a strategy to advance human rights over the next five years, but critics say there is little sign of meaningful change – only to divert attention from ongoing repression.

The government lifted a four-year state of emergency, but granted the president and security services powers that still give them free rein to quell protests and control the media. Authorities released several prominent activists from prison, but thousands remain in prison and courts are issuing judgments against others.

“The so-called reforms, like the human rights strategy, are only for international consumption,” said researcher Hussein Baumi from Amnesty International, Egypt.

Egyptian authorities continually dispute allegations of rights abuses, which officials and pro-government media often portray as part of a conspiracy to bring down the kingdom. They argue that extraordinary measures were needed to restore stability after the turmoil that shook the state following the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, an autocratic president who ruled for 30 years.

Mr Sisi’s government cites ensuring stability and security as the key to reviving both Egypt’s economy and its international status. It is hosting next year’s UN climate change conference, COP27, and also next year, plans to inaugurate a $60 billion administrative capital outside Cairo that it hopes will attract foreign investment.

After taking power, Mr Sisi, a former army general and defense minister, took a brutal crackdown on civil rights, rejecting political protests and public discontent, and using force to quell protests. Human rights groups say the crackdown has resulted in hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of people jailed.

In May, more than 30 countries, including the United States and its closest allies, criticized Egypt for allowing activists, the media and others to speak “without fear, harassment, arrest, detention or any other fear”. Statement issued. form of retaliation. ,

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The United States recently said it would withhold $130 million in military aid to Egypt until the human rights situation there improved, a reversal of long-standing US policy.

Human Rights Watch’s Egyptian researcher Amar Magadi described Mr Sisi’s government’s recent measures as “the whitewashing efforts needed by Western governments, especially the Biden administration, to continue business as usual”.

In the case of the three activists sentenced on Monday, Ms Souif described a very brief court session where the judges were absent and the defendants were held in a basement cell below the courtroom. “A court administrator came out and gave judgments like this: ‘Ala five years, bakar chaar, oxygen four,'” she said in an interview.

He was among thousands of people arrested in 2019 in connection with a rare wave of anti-government protests sparked by corruption charges by a former military aide.

Mr. Abd al-Fattah, a software engineer who emerged as one of the most famous faces of the 2011 uprising, Most of the last 10 years have been spent in prison.

According to his lawyers and his family, he was arrested in September 2019 at a police station where he was spending his nights as part of his conditional release after serving a five-year sentence for illegal protest.

Mr. al-Bakr was arrested the same day he attempted to oversee the investigation of Mr. Abd al-Fattah. Mr Ibrahim has spent most of the past four years in pre-trial detention on various counts. Earlier this year, his lawyers said he attempted suicide after months of being denied visits in prison.

Mr. Abd al-Fattah’s younger sister, Sanaa, who is also an activist, is currently serving an 18-month sentence for spreading false news and insulting a police officer.

Rights groups say Egypt’s use of emergency courts, whose decisions cannot be appealed, and pre-trial detention undermine the country’s claims to uphold human rights.

A statement from 10 human rights groups on Monday condemned “the continued use of these extraordinary courts in setting scores with human rights activists”.

“Even by today’s Egyptian standards, the trial was a mockery of justice,” said Hosam Bahgat, head of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the country’s largest rights groups. Mr Bhagat was recently convicted of spreading false news and ordered to be punished by a court.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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