Egypt: Take action to defend rights of citizens to assemble
The rights of citizens in Egypt to assemble and express their views are increasingly coming under threat. The government of Egypt has stepped up efforts to clamp down on dissent from political activist and civil society organisations. Political protests are being violently suppressed and a new law threatens the independence of civil society organisations.
Recent protests in Cairo on 6 April and 3 May were put down by police in riot gear wielding batons. The protesters were detained and beaten. Illustrating the repressive stance of the government, one Member of Parliament belonging to the ruling party commented: “Do not use water hoses to disperse these outlaws [political activists], shoot at them directly.”
Egypt has long affirmed its commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that every human has the right to:
- “freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (Article 19)
- “freedom of peaceful assembly and association” (Article 20)
However, the recent actions of the Egyptian government and the proposed law restricting civil society stand in clear contradiction to Egypt’s international human rights commitments.
Over the next two years, Egypt will be holding both its Parliamentary elections (2010) and its Presidential elections (2011). If citizens do not have the right to assemble and express their views, these elections will not be either fair or transparent. Sustained pressure needs to be put on the Egyptian government to uphold their commitment to the principles of the UDHR; to demand open, transparent and democratic elections; and to prevent the new law curbing the rights of civil society to pass.
Take action today to put pressure on the Egyptian government. Complete this letter template and send it to:
President of Egypt
H.E. Muhammad Hosni Mubarak
Office of the President,
Al Etehadia Building,
Fax: +20 22 390 1998
U.S. Ambassador to Egypt
H.E. Margaret Scobey
Embassy of the United States of America
5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City, Cairo
Fax: +20 22 797 3200
African Union Chairperson
H.E. Dr. Jean PING
African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243
(Old Airport Area)
Fax: +251 11 551 3036
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