Cairo: January 10, 2022
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) regrets to announce today that given the increasing disregard for the rule of law in Egypt, growing violations against human rights which do not spare independent human rights organizations and defenders, and an increase in police harassment, whether under a legal or judicial pretext or through explicit persecution, that starting today it will be suspending its operations and activities.
ANHRI’s decision to suspend its activities comes after many strenuous attempts to continue to operate despite the difficult conditions which Egyptians are going through and the state of political instability that the government has employed to put restrictions on independent human rights organizations, as well as the expansion in the arrests and detention of human rights defenders, journalists and political activists, regardless of whether they are independent or affiliated to political parties.
While all independent human rights organizations in Egypt face harassment, persecution and threats, the security forces’ targeting of ANHRI’s has been particularly severe and hostile, ranging from arresting members of the ANHRI team, thefts, violent physical assaults, and illegal summons, all the way to attempts to recruit some staff members as informants on ANHRI, and is part of a growing list of violations and harassment Unfortunately, the Public Prosecution was not satisfied with not providing protection, but has contributed to the violations and restrictions against ANHRI and its team.
ANHRI’s suspension of activities today comes after nearly 18 years of tireless and loyal work on behalf of the values of human rights and the rule of law and after fighting many battles from 2004 until now. These years represent an indelible part of history during which ANHRI defended freedom of expression and hundreds of journalists and opinion-holders in Egypt and the Arab world and preserved an important part of the history of the Egyptian and Arab human rights movement in its archive ANHRI led several initiatives to reform the police and the media, and supported bloggers and journalists by creating Katib blogging platform and Wasla newspaper, as well as Katib website, which was blocked 9 hours after its launch. These and many other ANHRI activities and achievements “ represent part of the struggle of the human rights community towards establishing a state of institutions, justice and the rule of law.
ANHRI’s executive director, Gamal Eid, said: “We are suspending our institutional work and activities today, but 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 organizations, independent human rights defenders and the entire movement calling for democracy.”
Eid added, “Despite our conviction that the new NGOs law is unjust, we began with registration consultations. Much to our astonishment, we faced an almost impossible difficulty as we remain accused in the civil society case, Case No. 173, for eleven years now, which prevents us from registering or dealing with official bodies. Then we received the message that we need to change ANHRI’s name and that working on freedom of expression and prison conditions is forbidden, even though these have been fundamental areas of ANHRI’s work since its inception! After this honorable history that we are proud of, we refuse to become an organization that works on unimportant issues, and we will not become a complicit organization or a GNGO (Governmental-Non-Governmental-Organization).”
In these circumstances, exacerbated by the emergence of a huge number of GNGO human rights organizations that polish the image of the government, create a false image of the human rights situation and take part in the violations and defamation against the few remaining independent human rights organizations, the small group of independent organizations that continue to try to work are a source of pride and appreciation. They might succeed where ANHRI has failed, in terms of survival and continuity. We are filled with hope and confidence that one day this dark phase of Egypt’s history, which is flooded with violations and the absence of the law, will come to an end. Until this day comes, we, as individual lawyers, will support them and work along their side to defend human rights and freedom of expression and to build an Egypt free from prisoners of conscience, oppression and impunity.