General: Egypt: UN must assist human rights lawyer Gamal Eid after brutal attack
On 29 December 2019, members of Egypt’s security forces attacked prominent human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), beating him badly and covering him in paint from head to toe. This is the fourth attack on Eid since October, and if the Egyptian authorities will not prevent such attacks, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on international bodies such as the United Nations to step in to protect him.
The attack was carried out by a group of about a dozen men, including a national security officer whom Eid recognised, and other members of the security forces who arrived in three private cars without license plates. They attacked Eid on the street near his house in Cairo, while he was waiting for a taxi, and threw him to the ground. When neighbours and other bystanders tried to step in to help Eid, security personnel pointed pistols in their faces and told them to go away. Eid was told that he was being drenched in paint to make him “behave himself.”
After the attack, his daughter Lina hugged him, saying "Papa you are stronger than them."
Eid said, “I think they do not want to repeat the scandal of torturing Giulio Regeni to death, so they resorted to attacking me one time after another, to punish me, silence me and stop me from doing human rights work and my frequent criticism of the gruesome human rights violations, but again, silence and collusion are not our choices.” Regeni was an Italian Cambridge University graduate who was tortured to death in Egypt in 2016 following his kidnapping.
On 10 October 2019, Eid was beaten in Cairo and his phone was stolen by a large man who knew him by name, and tried to also steal his bag. He suffered various bruises on his body and rib fractures causing severe pain. The attack appeared to be a deliberate attempt to get Eid’s phone and belongings, and not a random theft.
Less than a week later, at dawn on 16 October 2019, security forces abducted ANHRI staff lawyer Amr Imam, who remains in prison.
Then on 31 October 2019, a car that Eid had borrowed from another ANHRI lawyer was smashed by security forces at dawn. Eid’s neighbours saw seven armed men checking out the car the evening before. Eid’s own car had been stolen the month before.
ANHRI has linked the attacks on its Director and staff to defending those arrested and jailed as a result of the 20 September protests.
Other human rights lawyers, activists and journalists have been jailed in response to the protests as well. On 22 September, human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Masry was arrested and her detention has been repeatedly renewed. On 29 September, prominent blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, was arrested and tortured, and he remains in prison. On 13 October, journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah, of the banned news website Tahrir News, was kidnapped and tortured before being jailed.
The authorities have previously closed ANHRI’s offices, confiscated its bank accounts and placed travel bans on Eid and other rights defenders.
Eid is one of the first experts to provide training during GCHR workshops. In 2011, he won the Roland Berger Human Dignity Award and the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) Leaders for Democracy Award.
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.
Furthermore, GCHR calls for UN mechanisms to protect Gamal Eid and encourage the authorities to ensure there are no further attacks.