Commenting on the arrests of the Executive Director and two further staff members of the Egyptian human rights organisation EIPR (Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights), Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (20 November):
I am appalled at the arrest of Gasser Abdel Razek, the Executive Director of the Egyptian human rights organisation Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), yesterday and his two staff members Mohamed Basheer on 16 November and Karim Ennarah on 18 November. I met Gasser Abdel Razek in Cairo in March 2019 and very much value his insights into the situation regarding human and civil rights in Egypt.
There is obviously a direct connection between these arrests and the visit by a group of ambassadors, including the German Ambassador. I condemn this escalation in the way of dealing with Egyptian civil society in the strongest terms.
I therefore call for the immediate release of these human rights defenders. I urgently call on the Egyptian state organs to end the repression of civil society and to enable all citizens of Egypt to exercise their freedom of expression, of assembly and of the press unhampered, as laid down in the Egyptian constitution.
The Egyptian human rights organisation Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) mainly runs projects with a view to promoting democracy and the rule of law. The Federal Foreign Office is in regular contact with EIPR, just as it is with other human rights organisations in Egypt, and has been supporting EIPR since 2019. The visit of 13 ambassadors, including the German Ambassador, to the organisation on 3 November 2020 served to pay tribute to the organisation and signal international support. The Federal Government is concerned about the ongoing deterioration of the situation regarding human rights, civil society and freedom of the press in Egypt and addresses this regularly, also at a high level, in its dialogue with the Egyptian Government.