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Cop Civic Space calls on Egypt to release political prisoners

October 13, 2022 at 11:41 am

COP27 logo is seen on a smartphone screen and in the background. The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 event will take place from the 7-18 November 2022, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. [Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images]

As COP27 in Egypt approaches, Cop Civic Space is calling on the Egyptian authorities to release thousands of political prisoners, including MIT-educated Professor Seif Fateen.

Seif was arrested in November 2018, forcibly disappeared for over nine months, tortured, and accused of joining and funding a terror group.

Now in Al-Qanater Prison, Seif has been denied adequate medical care, including for hypertension and skin conditions he developed whilst detained.

In November this year, the UN climate summit will take place in Egypt’s Red Sea Resort town where officials will gather to discuss urgent issues related to climate change.

Rights activists are using the attention on Egypt as an opportunity to leverage reform, including Open Civic Space, a group of human rights organisations who are calling on the government to release everyone who has been arbitrarily detained in Egypt.

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Also on the list is human rights lawyer Hoda Abdel Moneim, who was arrested in November 2018 when security forces broke into her house, trashed it, blindfolded her and then forcibly disappeared her for 20 days before she reappeared in court.

Last year her family issued a statement saying they had been denied visitation rights.

Ezzat Ghoneim, a human rights lawyer and executive director of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedom, was arrested in March 2018, forcibly disappeared, and then accused of terrorism.

Human rights groups have said that his arrest appears to be a retaliatory move against his work defending political detainees in Egypt who had been tried in state security and military courts.

He has been imprisoned on charges of joining a banned group and spreading false news, held in pretrial detention and has been denied visitors.

The case of Marwa Arafa is also highlighted. Marwa worked as the coordinator for Free the Children, a charity focusing on minors arrested during protests. She spoke out about violations committed against children after they are arrested. Her daughter was just two when she was arrested.

Rights groups estimate there are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, many of whom are tortured and denied adequate medical care.