URGENT ALERT: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS UNDER ATTACK IN EGYPT
25 September 2017 UPDATE: For nine months, Azza has been without funds or access to any of her assets, trapped inside her own country by a government determined to, in her words, "close down the civic space for feminists who work on critical issues such as violence against women in both private and public spheres.” In the face of ongoing harassment, Azza told us: “I don’t have much options but to stand up for my rights and continue to fight on the personal and professional levels. I need to continue..." After being banned from travel and having her assets frozen, Azza is still waiting for a response about a travel request she submitted to a judge and is also planning to file a complaint against the bank that froze her assets.
Please join Equality Now and renew your call on Egypt to stop the harassment of human rights defenders and NGOs that are working tirelessly to support women and girls!
The government’s actions are in clear violation of the constitution, and the human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that Egypt is a part of. And it's not just Azza. The State is taking direct aim at human rights defenders across the country, like Mozen Hassan and Aida Seif El Dawlah, who continue to be barred from leaving the country. And with the continued closure of NGOs like the El Nadeem Center for the Treatment and the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, support for women and girls who are victims of violence and discrimination continues to deteriorate.
On 7 December 2016, Azza Soliman, a leading human rights defender from the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), was arrested and interrogated in Egypt under accusations of receiving foreign funding. Though reports say she has been released on bail of 20,000 Egyptian pounds, she and other social justice advocates are increasingly being targeted by authorities. Just last month, Azza was stopped on her way to Jordan where she was to train women’s groups. With absolutely no notice, she was shocked to learn that she had been banned from traveling, and that that all of her assets had been frozen. Currently, Azza is completely unable to work or to travel and her critical work to support the human rights of women and girls is under severe threat.
Other human rights defenders, including Aida Seif El-Dawla, director and co-founder of El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and Violence, and Mozen Hassan, founder of the Egyptian Nazra for Feminist Studies organizations, have also been subjected to threats by the government and banned from traveling.
TAKE ACTION! HELP US PROTECT AZZA AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS.
A new draft law, “The Law on Civil Societies and Foundations and Other Entities Working in the Civil Sphere,” will worsen this situation and, if signed by the President, will make what Azza is facing an everyday challenge for human rights defenders in Egypt. The draft law will be especially harsh towards women’s rights groups. Under a troubling provision, social justice activists work to end female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual violence, discrimination in law and harmful practices, and to encourage women’s political participation and economic empowerment is in danger.
JOIN US! Women’s human rights defenders are often attacked as visible representatives of their community. Around the world, women and girls continue to be threatened and victimized daily by gender based violence. Egypt is no exception and by severely curtailing the ability of activists such as Azza, Aida, Mozen and others to speak, women and girls are losing the voice of brave champions, resulting in serious consequences for human rights and for justice.
Please call on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to reject this extreme and damaging law. Let him know that women’s rights are too important to be swept away so carelessly. Also, please call on the Prosecutor General to drop the charges and overturn the travel bans on Azza, Aida, Mozen and others and to release their assets. Thank you!