EMHRN denounces the repression of Democracy Activists in Egypt

EMHRN denounces the repression of Democracy Activists in Egypt

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN) condemns the Egyptian security forces’ violent assaults against a large number of peaceful demonstrators in Cairo, Alexandria and various other areas on April 6. EMHRN emphasizes the need for an independent investigation on the detentions and the police’s use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators.

Egyptian police forces yesterday surrounded and brutally assaulted a number of demonstrators in downtown Cairo while trying to organize a march to the People’s Assembly to submit their demands for political reform to parliament members. In Cairo demonstrators were detained in a police truck. A number of others were detained in Alexandria while trying to take a train to Cairo to join the march.

Security forces surrounded major squares and universities in a number of Egyptian governorates. A number of journalists and foreign correspondents were assaulted, as well. Security forces confiscated the tapes of some television channels, including Jazeera News, and prevented them from covering the event. The number of detainees reached 90, including six women. Some were kept on Central Security premises where civilians should not be detained. Security forces also assaulted political activist Ayman Nour, founder and leader of Al-Ghad party, and his supporters while trying to join the march that 6 April Youtn Movement had called for.

The EMHRN affirms that oppressing and terrorizing activists demanding legitimate political reforms and confiscating the rights to peaceful gathering and freedom of opinion and expression are in contradiction with the Egyptian government’s recent voluntary commitments in front of world governments during the review of Egypt’s human rights report to the UN Human Rights Council on 17 February 2010. These acts also contradict the human rights commitments of the Egypt-EU Association Agreement and Action Plan agreed upon within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP).

Egypt has been witnessing increasing violations to human rights and basic freedoms. Egyptian authorities have been imposing an uninterrupted state of emergency for 29 years, which resulted in serious human rights violations, such as the unfair trials of civilians before military and state security courts, as well as imposing unjustified restrictions on the freedom of expression and peaceful gathering, and the administrative detention of bloggers, young activists and journalists.

The Egyptian government intends to pass laws that would restrict civil and political rights, such as introducing amendments to the Associations Law that will tighten the security’s grip on civil society and human rights defenders. The state of emergency is likely to be extended for an extra two years in accordance with declarations the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk attributed to Shura Council and Parliament Affairs Minister Mufid Shehab.

The EMHRN calls upon the Egyptian authorities to:

1. Conduct independent investigation on the detentions and the police’s use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators

2. Refrain from restricting or attacking defenders of democracy and political activists and guarantee the right to peaceful gathering and the freedom of opinion and expression, as well as immediately repeal the Emergency Law.

The EMHRN, prior to the Egypt-EU Association Council meeting to be held on 27 April 2010, and in accordance with the EU’s commitments to improve and guarantee the respect of human rights in its foreign relations, calls upon the EU to condemn these severe human rights abuses and to strongly urge Egyptian government to respect and adhere to its international human rights obligations.