Members of the European parliament have expressed solidarity with the Egyptian-Palestinian politician Ramy Shaath and other human rights activists detained in Egypt and are calling for their release.
In a series of photos published on a Twitter account in solidarity with Shaath, politicians hold up pictures of Ramy and the human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry, who was imprisoned once in 2014 on charges based on the protest law and again during the 20 September protests.
Behind them are photos of lawyer Ibrahim Metlawy, co-founder of 6 April Israa Abdelfattah, former parliamentarian Zyad El-Elaimy, housing researcher Ibrahim Ezz-Eldin, lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer, legal adviser Hoda Abdelmoneim, activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, Haytham Mohamadeen and Asmaa Dabees, all of whom have been detained by Egyptian authorities for their work in the field of human rights.
Shaath is the son of Dr Nabil Shaath, adviser for foreign affairs to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. His arrest was part of a wider battle between the Egyptian and Palestinian governments after Abbas announced his government would boycott the Bahrain conference in June which laid the economic foundations for the US’ peace deal for the Middle East, dubbed the deal of the century.
In a statement his family said Shaath had expressed his opposition to the deal of the century and Egypt’s participation in the Bahrain conference, which they believe is the reason behind his arrest. His detention has been regularly extended by Egyptian authorities who accuse him of aiding a terror group.
In Egypt, anyone who opposes the regime is accused of being involved in terrorism and usually linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise to power. Christians and politicians belonging to rival political parties have all been accused of working for the Brotherhood.
In a statement 30 Palestinian NGOs called for Shaath’s immediate and unconditional release. His wife Céline Lebrun has spoken out about how his arrest has affected their family, including his sister-in-law who was visiting him weekly and was hospitalised after a heart attack.
Egyptian authorities have overseen an unprecedented wave of arrests of human rights defenders in a desperate bid to silence free speech. At the end of November Amnesty International released a report on how the judicial system had become one of the main tools of repression against political opponents.
“[Supreme State Security Prosecution] SSSP prosecutors were complicit in enforced disappearance and torture and other ill-treatment by systematically neglecting to investigate allegations of such practices by Egyptian police, particularly the NSA, and admitting confessions extracted under torture as evidence in trials. In some cases, such evidence led to defendants being sentenced to death and executed,” the report said.