Egyptian Human Rights Forum

Solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Urged by Human Rights Community in Open Letter to Ambassadors and Diplomats

Your Excellency,

In solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), we are human rights organisations and initiatives writing to express our utmost concern regarding the unprecedented and alarming escalation against EIPR, one of Egypt’s oldest and most reputable human rights organisations. Since 15 November 2020, three employees of the organisation have been arbitrarily arrested and detained by the Egyptian government’s security forces: Karim Ennarah, the Director of EIPR’s Criminal Justice Unit, Mohammed Basheer, EIPR’s Administrative Manager, and Gasser Abdel-Razek, the Executive Director of EIPR.

We are alarmed by the unfounded accusations levelled against Mohammed Basheer during his interrogation at the Supreme State Security Prosecution’s office, which included joining an unnamed terrorist organisation and “committing one of the crimes of funding terrorism.” We were appalled that such trumped charges can be made against an administrative manager at an established NGO and legal aid organisation. Not to mention, EIPR is one of the few independent human rights NGOs remaining in Egypt that continues to work publicly and engage with state institutions.

Mohammed Basheer was arrested from his home in the early hours of Sunday, 15 November, by a heavily armed security force, and detained incommunicado in a security facility for twelve hours before being transferred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). He was questioned, respectively at the National Security Agency without a lawyer and then at the SSSP, about a visit by several diplomats to the offices of EIPR, and about EIPR’s criminal defence work and its publications. These are perfectly legitimate activities for a human rights and legal aid organisation to undertake and do not in any way justify the prosecution’s decision to detain him for fifteen days. Nor does it explain the accusations of joining a terrorist organisation, spreading false information, undermining public security – charges that are not supported by any evidence.

Just days after the arrest of Basheer, the authorities arrested Karim Ennarah on 18 November 2020, as he was sitting in a restaurant in Dahab, South Sinai, while on vacation. Security forces had gone to Ennarah’s home in Cairo early in the morning of 17 November 2020, while he was not there. Ennarah’s laptop, phone and personal belongings were confiscated by security forces during his arrest. After an investigation lasting for four hours, the Supreme State Security Prosecutor ordered Ennarah’s pretrial detention for  fifteen  days per case 855 of 2020 pending investigations over fabricated charges of “joining a terrorist group,” “using a social media account to spread false news” and “spreading false news.” The prosecutor said that this is based on security investigations showing that Karim “agreed with a group inside prisons to spread false rumors that could undermine public peace and public safety.”

On 19 November, EIPR reported that security forces had arrested Gasser Abdel-Razek from his home in Cairo and taken him to an unknown location. He later appeared and was interrogated at the State Security Prosecution, who ordered his pretrial detention for fifteen days in case 855 pending investigations into the unfounded charges of “joining a terrorist group,” “disseminating false statements to undermine public security,” and “using the internet to publish false news.”

We believe that the detention of Karim Ennarah, Mohammed Basheer and Gasser Abdel-Razek is arbitrary; they are being targeted solely because of the legitimate work of EIPR, with the aim of intimidating EIPR staff members and the Egyptian human rights community at large. We are increasingly concerned about the ever-diminishing space for organisations like EIPR and others who choose to carry out their work publicly in Egypt, and who are being punished for trying to uphold human rights and constitutional norms in the country.

We are writing to you because we are counting on your support and advocacy for the immediate and unconditional release of Mohammed Basheer, Karim Ennarah, and Gasser Abdel-Razek and the dismissal of the case against them.

Sincerely,

  1. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France)
  2. Akahata A.C. (Argentina)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights (ANKH association)
  5. Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
  6. ARCI
  7. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  8. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
  9. Association Beity (Tunisie)
  10. Association de Défense des Libertés Individuelles (ADLI-Tunisie)
  11. Association for Progressive Communications – APC
  12. Association Tunisienne des Femmes démocrates (ATFD-Tunisie)
  13. Association Yakadha pour la démocratie et l’État civique (Tunisie)
  14. Awan Organization – Iraq
  15. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  16. Center for Reproductive Rights
  17. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  18. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  19. Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
  20. Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDHT)
  21. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  22. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  23. EuroMed Rights
  24. Federation for Women and Family Planning (Poland)
  25. Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux (FTDES-Tunisie)
  26. Freedom House
  27. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  28. ILGA World
  29. Initiative franco-égyptienne pour les Droits et les Libertés
  30. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  31. International Service for Human Rights
  32. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
  33. La Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort
  34. Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
  35. LIBERA associazioni nomi e numeri contro le mafie (Italy)
  36. Ligue Tunisienne de Défense des droits de l’Homme
  37. MENA Rights Group
  38. Minority Rights Group International (MRG)
  39. Pan Africa ILGA
  40. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
  41. RESURJ Alliance
  42. Sexual Rights Initiative
  43. Solidarity Is Global Institute (JORDAN)
  44. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
  45. Tamazight Women’s Movement (LIBYA)
  46. The Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)
  47. The Freedom Initiative (Washington DC)
  48. The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
  49. Women’s March Global
  50. World Movement for Democracy
  51. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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