U.N., several countries denounce arrests of Egyptian activists

CAIRO (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights office, the United States and several European countries on Friday criticised the arrest of three members of a prominent Egyptian rights group after a meeting with diplomats in Cairo

Reuters November 21, 2020 03:11:29 IST
U.N., several countries denounce arrests of Egyptian activists

UN several countries denounce arrests of Egyptian activists

CAIRO (Reuters) - The U.N. human rights office, the United States and several European countries on Friday criticised the arrest of three members of a prominent Egyptian rights group after a meeting with diplomats in Cairo.

In the past week, security forces detained three staff, including the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), after 13 senior diplomats visited the group for a briefing on human rights on Nov. 3.

EIPR said all three have been ordered detained for 15 days on charges of joining a terrorist group and spreading false news, in what critics see as the latest escalation of an unprecedented clampdown on civil society and political dissent.

Egypt's government has said EIPR was operating illegally.

"We are very concerned that the targeting of human rights defenders and other activists, as well as further restrictions on freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly imposed in the country, are having a profound chilling effect on an already weakened Egyptian civil society," Ravina Shamdasani of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights told a briefing in Geneva.

Several European countries whose diplomats attended the Nov. 3 meeting criticised the arrests in statements and on Twitter.

Bärbel Kofler, human rights commissioner for Germany's foreign ministry, said she was "appalled" by the arrests.

"I condemn this escalation in the way of dealing with Egyptian civil society in the strongest terms," she said in a statement.

A U.S. Department of State spokesman said Washington was "very concerned" by the latest detention, that of EIPR Executive Director Gasser Abdel Razek.

Antony Blinken, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's foreign policy adviser, tweeted: "Meeting with foreign diplomats is not a crime. Nor is peacefully advocating for human rights."

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has overseen a extensive crackdown on political dissent that has steadily tightened in recent years.

Sisi has said there are no political prisoners in Egypt, that stability and security are paramount, and that the government supports human rights by providing basic needs such as jobs and housing.

(Reporting by Cairo bureau; editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.