After being blocked for 48 hours, Human Rights Watch is now accessible again in Egypt.
Last Thursday, the organisation announced that the Egyptian authorities had blocked its website a day after it released a report on systematic torture in the country’s jails.
The report dealt with prisoners’ torture cases in Egypt, which the organization considered to be a “possible crime against humanity”.
According to Joe Stork the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division of the organization, “the Egyptian authorities continue to insist that any incidents of torture are individual crimes committed by corrupted officers who are acting on an individual basis, but Human Rights Watch report proves otherwise.”
Unblocking the HRW site is an unusual move for the Egyptian government. Since May authorities have blocked Egyptian and Arab websites, starting with Al-Jazeera and other authorized Egyptian websites such as Daily News Egypt, Masr al-Arabia, al-Mesryoon, al-Borsa, Korabia, al-Bedaiah, Masreiat and al-Badil.
In total 424 sites have been blocked according to the latest statistics carried out by Freedom of Thought and Expression Foundation, which is a non-governmental organization that tracks sites affected by closure through the use of software that monitors cases of interruption.
The blocking did not only affect news websites or platforms that are affiliated to human rights organisations such as the Arab Network for Human Rights and Al-Karama Human Rights organisation. It also reached other organizations that enjoyed the status of an adviser at the United Nations as Reporters without Borders.
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Human Rights Watch’s latest report was widely attacked in the Egyptian press. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry also responded by rejecting the charges, saying that the report aims at deliberately targeting and distorting Egypt.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid confirmed that the organization is biased and operates according to a political agenda that reflects the interests of the parties and countries that financially support them.
Abu Zeid denounced the “desperate” attempts to deliberately distort the 30 June revolution by calling it a military coup against an elected president and linking the current human rights situation in Egypt to those of January revolution.
The National Council refutes
On Thursday, the National Council for Human Rights issued a statement denying the existence of cases of torture in prisons and detention centres, calling on the HRW to further scrutinize the news and reports regarding this case.
The head of the council, Mohammed Fayiq, said that they had made it clear beforehand that there was no systematic torture and that the council did not receive any complaints in this regard. He pointed out that the council immediately follows up what the media publish and complaints about any human rights violations in order to submit it to the public authorities which would launch an urgent investigation.
Alaa Abed, head of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, accused HRW of being a suspicious organisation due to its frequents attacks on Egypt and implied that it favoured the Muslim Brotherhood. He also suggested that HRW was supported financially by Qatar and Turkey, as well as by a ‘Zionist lobby’.
In one of his statements, Abed explained that HRW visited prisons and sections and did not notice such abuses that the organization is constantly reiterating in an attempt to break apart the people and the regime.
He pointed out that when examining the cases, the Committee has received concerning forced disappearance, they found that those who disappeared were charged in other cases or joined a terrorist organization or had left the country through illegal immigration.
Alaa Abed’s charges included the issue of the organization’s working for the Muslim Brotherhood so as to overthrow the regime and fulfil the plan to divide Egypt.
The head of the committee of the Human Rights in the Egyptian Parliament wondered about this organization’s reaction toward the killings, torture and displacement that the Muslims of Myanmar are suffering from.