Egypt: Leading rights group closes citing government persecution

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, one of Egypt’s last independent rights groups, has shut down.

Human rights activist Gamal Eid is seen at a court in Cairo
ANHRI's Executive Director Gamal Eid says the group's workers had been arrested, intimidated and physically assaulted by security forces [File: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters]

One of Egypt’s last independent human rights organisations has closed down, according to a statement by the group, citing government persecution.

Egypt’s government has engaged in a widespread crackdown on dissent for years that has stifled many of the country’s civil society groups and jailed thousands.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, an Egyptian organisation, was founded in 2004 by a team of lawyers and activists. It documented violations against citizens, journalists and political prisoners in Egypt and the region. It also followed the increasing government intimidation and targeting of human rights workers and others.

But laws that made many of ANHRI’s operations illegal have forced the organisation to shut down, Executive Director Gamal Eid said in the statement on Monday.

He said the group’s workers had been arrested, intimidated and physically assaulted by security forces.

“We continue to be lawyers who have a conscience, and as individual, independent human rights defenders will work side by side with the few remaining independent human rights organisations, independent human rights defenders and the entire movement calling for democracy,” he wrote.

A government media officer did not respond to a request by The Associated Press for a comment on the organisation’s statement.

Those who have been imprisoned in recent years included secular activists who had been involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled the country’s longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

As a lawyer, Eid represented some of the most prominent secular detainees. A court ordered his assets frozen and has banned him from travelling since 2016.

Since rising to power in 2013, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has overseen the post-uprising crackdown and outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood, labelling it a “terrorist organisation”.

The country is ranked among the world’s worst jailers of journalists, along with Turkey and China, according to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists.

Source: AP