Solidarity with Qena labor activists

Thirty-seven civil rights organization announced their solidarity with the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services, whose branch in the Upper Egyptian town of Naga’a Hammadi (Qena Province) was closed by the security services on Thursday. The Center has earned the state’s wrath since the December 2006 Ghazl el-Mahalla strike, which the government blamed Center’s activists of instigating. The Labor Ministry has also been directing threats and accusations against the Center’s director Kamal Abbas in person. The crackdown on the Center’s branch in Naga’a Hammadi could well be followed by the closure of the center’s branches in Helwan and Mahalla.

Solidarity Statement from Egyptian Civil Society Organizations With the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS”
A Call to Revoke the Decision To Shut Down CTUWS’ Branch in Naj Hamadi

The undersigned Egyptian Civil Society Organizations hereby express their support for and solidarity with the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” and their strong condemnation to the attacks against CTUWS represented lately in the Administrative Decision No. 44 of the year 2007 issued by General Al Sherbeeny Hasheesh Chairman of the City of Naj Hamadi (Governorate of Qena in Southern Egypt) issued this morning Thursday 29 March 2007 to shut down CTUWS’ branch in the city of Naj Hamadi. The issuance of this decision completes the series of administrative provocations against that Branch throughout the last week, the latest of which was summoning the staff of the said branch to the police station where the Chief Officer told them that the branch must be shut down and that as a police office he is mandated to implement the decision regardless to its validity or legality.

The undersigned Organizations express their great concern for the recurrence to use administrative attacks and pressure techniques against human rights and non governmental organizations while our society seems to have surpassed such practices during the last few years. The undersigned Organizations consider this trend a serious approach and a distressing indication to what may be considered a governmental stand towards the civil society and non governmental organizations, particularly those engaged in human rights and social defence spheres.
The civil society organizations as well as all the alive and democratic powers in our society aspired for salient democratic reforms to expand the space for civil society, not to be subject to the power of the state bodies or to the accusations plotted for them. We were surprised by this administrative decision which represents a direct violation of the right of expression and the right to peaceful democratic organizations. The decision jeopardizes the relationship between the state bodies and the civil society organizations at a time when the move to political reform in our country has become questionable after the amendments to the constitution were approved.
The decision of the Local Council of Naj Hamadi to shut down the CTUWS Branch and the collaboration from the police to enforce the decision which they consider as an enforceable administrative decision even though it was issued by an incompetent body mean that the civil society organizations are besieged by administrative interventions which threaten them from each and every direction. These interventions render the civil society organizations unable to play their role particularly in social defence, monitoring and lobbying against the government bodies.
The undersigned Organizations – which decided on February 12th 2007 to form a permanent committee for solidarity with the Center for Trade Union and Workers Services “CTUWS” and to support it by all means – and which call upon the Governor of Qena and the Minister for Local Government to revoke the decision to shut down CTUWS’ branch in the city of Naj Hamadi, forward this call to all the alive and democratic powers to consolidate with the CTUWS. Meanwhile, the undersigned Organizations call upon all the executive government bodies to respect the fundamental human rights stipulated by international conventions ratified by the Government of Egypt and to give the civil society organizations the opportunity to perform their role which is essential for maintaining social stability and observe the principles of good governance at the present time when people are afraid of the retreat of the limited democratic margin which our society was in a dire need for its expansion and not for its destruction.

Signatories according to alphabetical:

1-Appropriate Communication Technologies for Development (ACT)
2-Afaq Socialist Center
3-Arab and African Research Center
4-Arab Penal Reform Organization (APRO)
5-Arab program for human rights activist
6-Association for Health and Environmental Development (Ahed)
7-Awlad Al-Ard Institution for Human Rights
8-Cairo Center for Human Rights Studies
9-Center for Alternative Development Studies
10-Center for Egyptian Woman’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA)
11-Center for Human Rights legal studies and Information
12-Center for Socialist Studies
13-Civil Monitor for Human Rights
14-Egyptian Association against Torture
15-Egyptian Center for Children’s’ Rights
16-Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
17-El Nadim Center For the Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
18-Forum for development and Human Rights Dialogue
19-Group for Democracy Development
20Hisham Mubarak Law Center
21-Land Center for Human Rights
22-MAAT Center for Juridical and Constitutional Studies
23-Shumuu association for human rights and care for disabled people.
24-The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession
25-The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
26-The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
27-The Egyptian Association For Community Participation Enhancement
28-The Egyptian Association for the Family Development
29-The Egyptian Association for the Support of Democratic Development (EASD)
30-The Egyptian center for Housing Rights
31-The Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights
32-The Egyptian Organization For Human Rights
33-The Egyptian Social Democratic Center
34-The Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners
35-The Legal Assistance for Human Rights Association
36-The New Woman Foundation
37-The South Center for Human Rights

Click on the cartoon below to download the solidarity statement in Arabic…

Solidarity with Qena Labor Activists