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Demonstrators gather in Berlin to protest COP27 greenwashing in Egypt

August 9, 2022 at 1:15 pm

Demonstrators gather to protest Egypt’s attempts to greenwash crimes with the upcoming COP27 conference, on 8 August 2022 [FreedomForAlaa/Twitter]

Demonstrators gathered outside the British embassy in Berlin yesterday to protest Egypt’s attempts to greenwash crimes with the upcoming COP27 conference.

The UN will host the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in November this year.

Several human rights organisations have slammed the decision for the conference to be held in Egypt where there has been a significant crackdown on civil society, protests are effectively banned and roughly 60,000 political prisoners remain behind bars.

Among these political prisoners are environmental activist Ahmed Amasha, who has been subject to forcible disappearance and torture, and a former professor in the department of environmental planning at Cairo University, Ahmed Al-Kholy, who was arrested in 2019 and is still being held in pretrial detention on fabricated charges.

At the end of July, several environmentalists and activists questioned how Egypt could successfully host the COP27 summit due to its record on human rights abuses.

Egypt’s foreign minister has promised to set up a facility adjacent to the summit for people to protest but this has done little to allay sharp criticism.

Egypt: Uncertainty shrouds the future of environmental activist Ahmed Al-Kholy, trapped in pretrial detention for 3 years and counting

Author Naomi Klein, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, and environmentalist and author Bill McKibben are among the signatories highlighting the rights abuses that take place in Egypt and calling on authorities to release political prisoners.

“It seems more likely at this point that the conference will be used to whitewash human rights abuses in the country,” the 36 signatories said in a statement.

Their urgent message follows a call made by 21 national, regional, and international civil society organisations on German ministers to press Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to “reopen civic space ahead of COP27” and release all political prisoners.

The call came ahead of the July Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock co-hosted with Al-Sisi, and highlighted the central role civil society plays in countering the climate crisis:

“We consider that immediately and unconditionally releasing [political prisoners], according to Egypt’s obligations under international law, would signal that the Egyptian government is committed to ensuring that participants at COP27 may speak and assemble freely at the COP27 conference, without fear of reprisals” said the signatories, including Amnesty International, Reporters without Borders and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

Also in July a White House adviser and his partner called on the UN to change the location of COP27 due to fear that LGTBQ people would be targeted if they attend the summit.

In June 2020 LGBTQ activist Sarah Hegazi committed suicide in Canada where she was living in exile. Sarah had been arrested in Egypt after raising the rainbow flag at a concert, was tortured by electric shock, and forced to leave her job and the country. When she was released Sarah had severe post-traumatic stress disorder.