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Gamal Eid selected as Defender of Human Rights & Freedom of Expression for April 2017

2017-04-10

Press Release

Cairo & Beirut: 10 April 2017

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Maharat Foundation, and the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), in cooperation with IFEX, have selected prominent human rights defender and lawyer Gamal Eid from Egypt as the Defender of Human Rights & Freedom of Expression for the month of April 2017 as part of the campaign entitled “Supporting Human Rights Defenders and Freedom of Expression.”

Gamal Eid is one of the most important defenders of human rights and freedom of expression in Egypt and the Arab world. He has defended many journalists, opinion makers and political prisoners. He has held many honorable patriotic positions, for which he was arrested and faced political persecution.

Gamal Eid has had an important role in the human rights movement. He worked on spreading human rights culture, and he was known for his courage in defending the persecuted, for using digital expression tools for defending human rights, and for opening new spaces for journalists, bloggers and opinion makers in the Arab region.

On 28 March 2004, Gamal Eid established the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANRHI). Through ANHRI and its website, Eid worked on spreading human rights culture, increasing content in Arabic about human rights on the Internet, and presenting different points of view on several human rights issues. He also worked on defending public freedoms by exposing all forms of violations against freedom of expression and Internet freedom in Arab countries, as well as training thousands of journalists, lawyers and Internet activists on credibility, professional writing, adherence to human rights values and principles, and avoiding publishing crimes, to keep up with the rapid developments of communications and the information revolution.

Gamal Eid opened five free public libraries in slums and poor neighborhoods called "Al-Karama Libraries" (Dignity Libraries), through which he worked on enabling poor people to enjoy their rights to have access to public culture, access to information, and the ability to express themselves. He did this with the money from the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award, which he received in Germany in 2011.

Since he was a student, Gamal Eid began his activism by volunteering with Amnesty International, later he was defending workers' and students' rights, and then in 2004 he joined the "Kefaya" movement. He continued his human rights and political activism, for which he was imprisoned four times. Finally his efforts were crowned by participating in the 25 January Revolution.

Gamal Eid kept expanded his defense of rights and freedoms. Not only did he defend the most vulnerable groups, but he also documented various instances of violations of the law against all groups and he kept defending thousands of victims from all political trends.

Gamal Eid received many awards for his courage in defending human rights, in February 2011, he received the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)'s “Leader for Democracy” award, then he got the Roland Berger Human Dignity award in 2011.

Against the backdrop of his courageous positions in defending human rights, Gamal Eid has been subjected to several violations and police harassment; He was imprisoned many times, and on 04 February 2016, the authorities at Cairo International Airport informed him that he was banned from traveling, without giving reasons, and without notification or any summons for investigation by the public prosecution. Moreover, his bank account was frozen, preventing him from disposing of or dealing with his property as part of case No. 173 of 2011.

The authorities also put an end to the activities of "Al-Karama" libraries, closing their doors to the children and the youth who benefited from them, depriving thousands of people living in slums and poor neighborhoods from the benefits. The authorities were also unrelenting in refusing to return the books, computers and other items that were inside the libraries.

Right now Gamal Eid is facing unfair defamation campaigns by those close to the military regime in Egypt, in addition to the judicial persecution using unjust articles in case No. 173 of 2011, also known as the law "Closing Civil Society Organizations," for allegedly receiving funds from outside Egypt, as a punishment for his courage defending the rights of the oppressed and his media statements exposing violations.

Gamal Eid is the third Human Rights Defender to be nominated by the campaign “Supporting Human Rights Defenders and Freedom of Expression.” The first nominee was prominent woman human rights defender and brave Tunisian journalist Naziha Rjiba (also known as “Om Zied”). See: http://anhri.net/?p=182535&lang=en, followed by prominent human rights defender and blogger Ahmed Mansoor from the United Arab Emirates, who has been arbitrarily detained lately. See: http://anhri.net/?p=183512&lang=en

For more information on how to take part in this campaign please visit the websites of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) - http://www.anhri.net, Maharat News  www.maharat-news.com  and Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) - www.gc4hr.org