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Climate activist Greta Thunberg signs petition calling on Egypt to release political prisoners

October 21, 2022 at 12:43 pm

Greta Thunberg [European Parliament/Flickr]

Climate activist Greta Thunberg has said on Twitter that she has signed a petition calling on the Egyptian government to release political prisoners ahead of COP27.

Her support comes amid criticism that large green groups have not spoken out about the human rights situation in Egypt ahead of the UN summit.

Cop Civic Space, a coalition of Egyptian human rights groups, is helping ramp up the pressure on the Egyptian government to stop committing violations.

It hopes to use the publicity generated by COP27 to mobilise the global climate movement and the Egyptian human rights movement to amplify key demands of the Egyptian human rights movement.

READ: Egypt police search mobile phones for anti-government content ahead of COP27

The coalition is calling on the Egyptian government to release some 60,000 political prisoners who are kept in dire conditions, are systematically tortured and denied adequate medical care.

The petition is also calling on the government to unblock media websites and allow civil society to take part in COP27 without fear of reprisal.

Since May 2017 the Egyptian government has blocked at least 600 websites in violation of the right to access information.

It has also passed two laws, the Press and Media Regulation Law, and the Cybercrime Law, to legalise this blocking which applies to websites and any social media account with over 5,000 followers.

Among the reasons given is the government’s ability to block websites for broadcasting false news, publishing or broadcasting calls for breaking the law, or contempt to heavenly religions.

Many political prisoners have been detained under these charges.

There has been much debate over whether the Egyptian government will allow the meaningful participation of civil society in November, given that a 2013 law effectively bans protests.

Over the last several days social media users have reported that police checkpoints have been erected in downtown Cairo and plain clothes police officers are searching phones for anti-government content ahead of the climate summit.