Egypt: The German government must take a clear stance against attacks on human rights defenders and partners of the Heinrich Böll Foundation

Last weekend, the Egyptian authorities continued the recent wave of arrests of critical members of the opposition, human rights defenders and journalists. As has now been definitively confirmed, Ahmad Abdallah, head of the human rights organisation Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedom (ECRF), another partner of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, has been arrested. On 25 April, Abdallah was "preventively" taken into custody (preventive detention) in the middle of the night and a few days later was accused of "belonging to a terrorist organisation" and "inciting a violent overthrow of the government".

Commenting on the renewed repression in Egypt, Barbara Unmüßig, President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, said: "The arrest and indictment of Ahmad Abdallah occurred, as it did for four other members of our partner organisation ECRF, after months of persecution and oppression under dubious circumstances and on the basis of absurd accusations. The unrestrained behaviour of the Egyptian authorities over the last week and this past weekend makes it impossible not only to have any illusions about the nature of the ruling regime, but certainly to continue glossing over conditions in Egypt," said Unmüssig today in Berlin.

"The German government may no longer ignore the facts – it must take a clear stance: Egypt is a country under authoritarian control which has largely abandoned the principles of fundamental rule of law and human rights. These principles are non-negotiable - and cannot be exchanged for large contracts for German industry. The governing practices of the as-Sisi regime are also no guarantee of stability - this is evidenced by the growing protests among various sections of the population and professional associations, such as the syndicates of journalists or doctors," said Unmüssig.

In its reports, the ECRF published information about "enforced disappearance": people are arrested by security officers on the streets, at their jobs or in their homes and transferred to detention centres where they are denied contacts with lawyers, nor do they appear before a judge, and their families also receive no information about their whereabouts.

In 2015 alone, 1,700 people disappeared this way in Egypt according to the ECRF. In its resolution from 10.03.2016, the European Parliament cited the ECRF's reports on the situation in Egypt and the case of the Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni. Ahmad Abdallah and the ECRF advised the lawyers of the Giulio Regenis' family to investigate the kidnapping, torture and murder of the PhD student in Egypt. In cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Ahmad Abdallah wanted to publish, among other things, a critical report on informal districts and social rights in Cairo. This was no longer possible.


Press contact Heinrich Böll Foundation:
Michael Alvarez Kalverkamp
Press Spokesperson
Tel.: +49-(0)30-285 34-202