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Jeremy Corbyn joins growing chorus of condemnation over Egypt’s arrest of rights advocates

November 25, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, 4 November 2019 [Jeremy Corbyn/Flickr]

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has joined the chorus of voices condemning the arrest of EIPR human rights advocates in Egypt.

Last week the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and two staff members were arrested after they met with foreign diplomats in Cairo to discuss human rights in Egypt.

Administrative Manager Mohammed Basheer was arrested first, followed by head of the organisation’s criminal justice unit Karim Ennarah and then head of the EIPR Gasser Abdel-Razek.

The EIPR documented Egypt’s systematic practice of arbitrary detention, state torture and mass executions.

All three are in pretrial detention in the notorious Tora Prison accused of joining a terror group and spreading false news. Abdel-Razek is being held in solitary confinement in a cold cell without a mattress.

In February, news of the arrest and torture of another EIPR staff member, researcher Patrick Zaky, was widely circulated.

READ: Sisi builds dog quarters in palaces whilst Egyptians go hungry

Zaky is a student in Italy and critics drew comparisons with his incarceration and the death of Italian student Giulio Regeni some years before.

Following the arrest of Basheer, Ennarah and Abdel-Razek, the official spokeswoman for the UNHCR Rafina Shamdasani released a detailed statement on their detention and interrogation.

The US State Department has urged the Egyptian government to release detainees and respect freedom of expression, whilst former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders has called on the US government to support democracy not dictatorship.

US Congress members Tamy Baldwin, Chris Coons, Ted Deutch expressed their concern as did the foreign policy adviser for Joe Biden’s campaign.

The French foreign ministry issued a statement reiterating France’s commitment to protecting human rights defenders around the world.

The Irish ambassador expressed concern over their arrest, as did the Canadian minister of foreign affairs

The German ambassador attended the meeting after which they were arrested and now Berlin has condemned the escalation and called for their immediate release.

The British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab has raised the issue with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry whilst the Italian ambassador sent a letter to him calling for their release.