In Egypt, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has dissolved itself. This is due to intimidation against the organization and concerns for the safety of employees. ANHRI was one of the last independent human rights organizations in the country.
For eighteen years, the organization conducted research in Egypt into, among other things, freedom of the press in the country and the situation of prisoners. “They bring out an image that the Egyptian government would rather not see,” says journalist Joost Scheffers from Egypt in the NOS Radio 1 News.
In Egypt, human rights defenders face violence and intimidation. For example, the founder of ANHRI, Gamal Eid, was beaten up in the street and the lawyer of the organization has been incarcerated for more than a year.
Also, employees are not allowed to leave the country, making it more difficult to increase their visibility abroad. They also miss out on important income.
According to Scheffers, President Sisi wants to polish the image of the country and it is good news for the authorities that the organization itself has decided to stop working. “Had Egypt pulled the plug, they could have expected a storm of international criticism,” said the journalist. “Internationally, there is pressure on Egypt to improve the human rights situation, but usually the pressure is not strong.”
The situation has changed somewhat since Biden became president of the United States. Every year Egypt receives $1.3 billion in military aid from the US, which the country desperately needs. Last September, Biden decided to withhold part of that amount due to the human rights situation.
“After that, Egypt released a whole host of prominent activists, journalists and lawyers,” says Scheffers. Nevertheless, the current situation does not give much hope. “The repression continues unabated.”