Scholars and activists for the Working Group on Egypt at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of Washington’s most influential think-tanks, published an open letter on Thursday to US President Barack Obama calling upon him to rethink his collaboration with the Egyptian president and coup leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.
In the letter, the group of high profile scholars and activists chide Obama for meeting with Al-Sisi during the UN General Assembly in New York, telling him that: “This meeting will be understood around the world, and in Egypt, as a formal blessing for a leader who carried out a military coup against an elected government, who has overseen numerous acts of brutality against his own people, who gained his present office in an election held in an environment deemed to be undemocratic by international observers, and who has pursued a relentless course of domestic repression and persecution of dissent.”
They also point out that: “Whatever assistance Al-Sisi may or may not provide in the fight against violent extremism in the region is already outweighed by the radicalism and instability he is cultivating every day in Egypt through his oppressive policies.”
The scholars and activists argue that the political situation in Egypt is “far worse” than ever before, expressing their “great concern that Al-Sisi’s rule is fuelling radicalisation, violence and terrorism in Egypt.”
They continue: “The post-coup crackdown has left more than 2,000 protesters dead—including more than 1,000 killed deliberately and systematically on a single day in August 2013, rivalling the Tiananmen massacre. Tens of thousands more are in prison, many detained without charge for extended periods or subject to mass trials in rigged courts, suffering torture and inhumane conditions.”
The scholars and activists also criticise the Egyptian government’s “increasing pressure on the few remaining Egyptian civil society groups that report on or criticise human rights abuses, particularly if they dare to cooperate with international organisations or accept their support,” and demand for Obama to “raise these issues—unlawful killing, imprisonment, torture, targeting of journalists, stifling civil society” with Al-Sisi.
“We urge you to do so,” they warn, “Because if you do not, your meeting with Al-Sisi will be understood, and indeed rightly understood, as a sign to Egyptians that the US has given its blessing to the on-going massive campaign of repression and human rights abuses.”