Egypt Rights Groups Accuse SCAF of Deliberate Smear Campaign

Egypt Rights Groups Accuse SCAF of Deliberate Smear Campaign

In a press conference Wednesday sponsored by 36 Egyptian human rights organizations at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the NGO’s announced their condemnation of the "very fierce campaign" waged by the government and the military council on civil society organizations and human rights groups over alleged foreign funding. 

The rights groups voiced their demands to the competent authorities regarding this campaign, on top of these demands the dismissal of the Minister of Solidarity Gouda Abdul-Khaliq and the Minister of International Cooperation Faiza Abul-Naga. The organizations presented the complaints they raised to the relevant rapporteurs of the United Nations and the African Commission for Human Rights in this regard.

The conference was attended by a large number of journalists, media professionals and artists involved in enhancing the role of civil society in Egypt.

The statement, introduced by Bahey El-Din Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, reflected the human rights activists’ rejection of the restrictions imposed on the activity of civil society organizations, and denounced accusing them of being foreign agents implementing foreign agendas in response to the criticisms voiced by these organizations regarding the human rights violations and the negative political situation after the fall of Mubarak and his regime.

Ahmed Ragheb, director of the Hisham Mubarak Center for Law, said that it is astonishing that the number of military trials that were held by the Military Council since it took office were 12,000, trying civilians before military courts in the last 6 months, while the people tried before military courts were ten thousand during the 30 years of Mubarak’s era. He said that these abuses will decide the fate of Egypt, as this country will either become a more democratic state or it would return to a worse situation than ever before.

Ahmed Fawzi, director of the Democracy Project at the Egyptian Association for the Advancement of Community Participation, presented certain demands to the government, including calling it to apologize for the campaign of defamation it waged against the civil society organizations.

Hafez Abu Saada, director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, considered that position by the military council and the current government towards civil society as a showcase that reveals that they (the government and the council) are against the rule of law, and he went on stressing that this campaign is not new, since there is no governmental welcome for the existence of such organizations in Egypt since the beginning of the human rights action in the eighties.

Moreover, Khaled Ali, director of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, stressed that the campaign aims to silence those organizations and even help the military council to continue to seize power. He stressed that everyone rejects the attempts to monopolize patriotism made by the government and the military council, as if no one else is a patriot in a bid to defame and stigmatize the civil society actors who stood against Mubarak and the privatization of state institutions, as well as acting against submitting civilians to military trials because they believe that their mission is to protect the Egyptian people.

Negad El-Boraei, President of the United Group, a law firm, added that right now a coalition is built between the military and the fundamentalists in order to hit on all those who call for the civil state.

Regarding the steps taken by these organizations to respond to this campaign, Mr. Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, stressed that the organizations will not give up demanding the legal accountability for the government and the military council with respect to the crimes committed against human rights so far.

In response to questions from the audience on the issue of funding, Hafez Abu Saada said that there are full bank statements for all the transactions of a large number of organizations revealing their accounts and their funding.

Khaled Ali pointed out that the Ministry of Solidarity has no stance regarding the funding of such organizations, as the ministry does not take a decision on this matter before consulting with the State Security (now called National Security) authorities. He added that the problem of the government and the military council is not the funding, but at the outputs of spending this funding, including supporting the strong criticism to the violations to human rights and the massive abuses committed by the government and the military council as well as revealing their abusive policies.