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Egypt arrests India climate activist ahead of COP27

November 1, 2022 at 11:38 am

Activist Ajit Rajagopal [Twitter/@maitelsadany]

Egyptian authorities arrested Indian climate activist Ajit Rajagopol who walked from Cairo to Sharm El-Sheikh as part of the March for our Planet global campaign, and then released him 24 hours later.

Rajagopol came to Egypt to participate in the COP27 UN summit hosted this year in Egypt’s Red Sea resort town but was arrested at a security checkpoint.

Human rights lawyer Makarios Lahzy received a call from him at 1pm and after going to help him, was arrested and detained at El-Obour city police station in Cairo and then later released.

On 7 November, heads of state, ministers, journalists and NGOs will gather to discuss issues urgent to tackling the climate emergency.

As the conference nears, dozens of arbitrary arrests have taken place across Egypt following calls for protests on 11 November and pressure on the government by rights organisations to stop committing violations ahead of COP27.

READ: Egypt destroys trees in Cairo to build floating restaurant, car park

At the end of October prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced that every day there is a new group of prisoners facing state security prosecution.

The Egyptian state’s continued arrest of activists, lawyers, and human rights defenders as it seeks to portray itself as a progressive country ahead of the summit has led to accusations that it is greenwashing its human rights abuses.

Civil society has been crushed for years in Egypt and many that have been critical of the government have been denied access to the summit via the registration process.

The government has built a purpose-built centre away from the conference centre, out on a highway, which has been slammed by civil society defenders as an attempt to remove them from the main centre and silence their voices.

Towards the end of October the government erected security checkpoints in streets in Cairo where they could stop civilians and check their mobile phones for anti-government content.

Spot checks and arrests take place whenever the government suspects protests will take place, most notably ahead of the anniversary of the January 2011 uprising, and 30 June, when the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

Roadblocks also appear more frequently around the anniversary of the 2019 and 2020 protests when dozens of protesters took to the streets calling on President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to stand down.