Egypt: Two lawyers arrested as world leaders convene for Cop27 summit
Egyptian security forces arrested two lawyers from their homes in Cairo and Giza, a rights group said on Tuesday, as world leaders convened in Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss climate change at the Cop27 conference.
The home of Ahmad Natheer al-Helo in the capital Cairo was raided by police on Monday, before he was taken away to an unknown location, according to the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR). The reasons for his arrest were not made clear.
A day earlier, the home of another lawyer named Ahmad Ghurab was raided in the neighbouring Giza governorate. Ghurab was asked about the whereabouts of his son, who was not home at the time, before being detained, ENHR said.
Ahmed Attar, executive director of ENHR, told Middle East Eye the arrests come amid a “fierce crackdown campaign” by the government in recent weeks.
“Up to 1,000 people have been detained, most of them young people, in a campaign that targeted journalists, lawyers and other citizens in fear of possible protests on 11 November,” Attar said.
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'Up to 1,000 people have been detained, most of them young people, in a campaign that targeted journalists, lawyers and other citizens in fear of possible protests on 11 November'
- Ahmed Attar, ENHR
Egyptian authorities have increased security across the country ahead of hosting the Cop27 summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh between 6 and 18 November.
Some Egyptians have called for protests on 11 November against the dire financial conditions that face much of the country, calling it the "Climate revolution".
The demonstration, which has no climate-oriented demands per se, is also being referred to as the 11/11 protest.
Between 25 October and 3 November, at least 118 Egyptians were arrested, Amnesty International's Egypt researcher Hussein Bayoumi told MEE. The real number might be higher, he added.
Several people were arrested based solely on a photo or a post they shared on social media.
Another NGO, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, also said that around 200 people had been detained across the country for publishing videos on social media calling for the 11/11 protests.
Egypt’s hosting of Cop27, which began on Sunday, has been marred by criticism levelled against the government’s poor human rights record.
The conference attended by world leaders is taking place amid tight restrictions on peaceful assembly and free speech.
It has also been overshadowed by calls to release political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah.
The UN on Tuesday demanded the Egyptian government release the pro-democracy activist, who is currently refusing both food and water while incarcerated.
Abd el-Fattah was an icon of the 2011 Egyptian revolution and has spent eight of the past 10 years in jail on various charges, the last of which was spreading “false news”.
UN rights chief Volker Turk said Abd el-Fattah needed to be released, warning his life was "in great danger".
"I urge the Egyptian government to immediately release Abd el-Fattah from prison and provide him with the necessary medical treatment," Turk said in a statement.
"His dry hunger strike puts his life at acute risk."
Later on Tuesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also called for the activist's release.
"There must be a decision - his release must be possible, so that this hunger strike does not end in death," he said, adding the situation was "very depressing" and "we should be afraid that this could lead to dreadful consequences".
At least 60,000 political prisoners are estimated to have been jailed since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, in 2013.
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