General: Egypt: GCHR stands in solidarity with prominent rights defender Gamal Eid and ANHRI, amid continuous arrests

18.10.19

On 10 October 2019, prominent human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), was beaten in Cairo, Egypt, as arrests of human rights defenders continued, including of one of ANHRI’s staff lawyers. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) strongly condemns the attacks, threats and arrests of human rights defenders in Egypt, including Eid, one of the first experts to provide training during GCHR workshops.

After being violently robbed, Eid suffered various bruises on his body and rib fractures causing severe pain, and doctors advised him to rest for two weeks.

Eid was on his way home in Al-Maadi when a large man grabbed the phone from Eid’s hand and tried to steal his bag. The man beat him with a pistol on his arm and different parts of his body. When people gathered to help Eid, the thief escaped after firing a shot at the crowd. The man was accompanied by another person on a motorcycle but they both had to flee on foot because they were surrounded by citizens who had come to Eid’s assistance.

Following the attack and robbery, two people appeared on the scene, one of whom claimed to be an intelligence officer, while the other person, did not identify himself. They drove away on the attackers’ abandoned motorcycle after asking Eid to meet them at the El-Basateen Police Station. When Eid went to the station to make a complaint, the police denied knowing the person who had claimed to be an intelligence officer. He appeared to have been tasked to clean up the crime scene of evidence, leading to suspicions that the attack was a deliberate attempt to get Eid’s phone and belongings, and not a random theft.

The authorities have previously closed ANHRI’s offices, confiscated its bank accounts and placed travel bans on Eid and other rights defenders. Less than a week after his attack, on 16 October 2019, at dawn, security forces abducted lawyer Amr Imam, who is on staff at ANHRI. The abduction came a few days after the kidnapping of journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, of the banned news website Tahrir News. On 13 October, Abdel Fattah was also taken from her car in Giza and then reported being tortured at the police station in an effort to gain access to her phone. She was then remanded into custody for 15 days.

The recent arrests come in the context of protest that started on 20 and 21 September 2019 calling for President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to resign, which led to several thousand arrests. On 22 September 2019, plainclothes security officers arrested prominent human rights lawyer and activist Mahienour El-Masry, and detained her. Then on 29 September, prominent blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, was arrested and tortured, and he remains in prison.

GCHR calls for an immediate end to the targeting of human rights defenders, activists and journalists who are carrying out their legitimate work covering protests in Egypt and other human rights violations. This includes ending the arrests and travel bans on human rights defenders. Egypt’s President must respect the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and the country’s allies must hold him accountable for human rights violations.