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Urgent Interventions

Solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights Urged by Human Rights Community in Open Letter to Ambassadors and Diplomats

Your Excellency,

In solidarity with the Egyptian Initiative forPersonal Rights (EIPR), we are human rights organisations and initiativeswriting to express our utmost concern regarding the unprecedented and alarmingescalation against EIPR, one of Egypt’s oldest and most reputable human rightsorganisations. Since 15 November 2020, three employees of the organisation havebeen arbitrarily arrested and detained by the Egyptian government’s securityforces: Karim Ennarah, the Director of EIPR’s Criminal Justice Unit, MohammedBasheer, EIPR’s Administrative Manager, and Gasser Abdel-Razek, the ExecutiveDirector of EIPR.

We are alarmed by the unfounded accusationslevelled against Mohammed Basheer during his interrogation at the Supreme StateSecurity Prosecution’s office, which included joining an unnamed terroristorganisation and “committing one of the crimes of funding terrorism.” We were appalledthat such trumped charges can be made against an administrative manager at anestablished NGO and legal aid organisation. Not to mention, EIPR is one of thefew independent human rights NGOs remaining in Egypt that continues to workpublicly and engage with state institutions.

Mohammed Basheer was arrested from his home inthe early hours of Sunday, 15 November, by a heavily armed security force, anddetained incommunicado in a security facility for twelve hours beforebeing transferred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). He wasquestioned, respectively at the National Security Agency without a lawyer andthen at the SSSP, about a visit by several diplomats to the offices of EIPR,and about EIPR’s criminal defence work and its publications. These areperfectly legitimate activities for a human rights and legal aid organisationto undertake and do not in any way justify the prosecution’s decision to detainhim for fifteen days. Nor does it explain the accusations of joining aterrorist organisation, spreading false information, undermining publicsecurity – charges that are not supported by any evidence.

Just days after the arrest of Basheer, theauthorities arrested Karim Ennarah on 18 November 2020, as he was sitting in arestaurant in Dahab, South Sinai, while on vacation. Security forces had goneto Ennarah’s home in Cairo early in the morning of 17 November 2020, while hewas not there. Ennarah’s laptop, phone and personal belongings were confiscatedby security forces during his arrest. After an investigation lasting for fourhours, the Supreme State Security Prosecutor ordered Ennarah’s pretrialdetention for fifteen days per case 855 of 2020 pendinginvestigations over fabricated charges of “joining a terrorist group,” “using asocial media account to spread false news” and “spreading false news.” Theprosecutor said that this is based on security investigations showing thatKarim “agreed with a group inside prisons to spread false rumors that couldundermine public peace and public safety.”

On 19 November, EIPR reported that securityforces had arrested Gasser Abdel-Razek from his home in Cairo and taken him toan unknown location. He later appeared and was interrogated at the StateSecurity Prosecution, who ordered his pretrial detention for fifteen days incase 855 pending investigations into the unfounded charges of “joining aterrorist group,” “disseminating false statements to undermine publicsecurity,” and “using the internet to publish false news.”

We believe that the detention of Karim Ennarah,Mohammed Basheer and Gasser Abdel-Razek is arbitrary; they are being targetedsolely because of the legitimate work of EIPR, with the aim of intimidatingEIPR staff members and the Egyptian human rights community at large. We are increasinglyconcerned about the ever-diminishing space for organisations like EIPR andothers who choose to carry out their work publicly in Egypt, and who are beingpunished for trying to uphold human rights and constitutional norms in thecountry.

We are writing to you because we are countingon your support and advocacy for the immediate and unconditional release ofMohammed Basheer, Karim Ennarah, and Gasser Abdel-Razek and the dismissal ofthe case against them.


  1. Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT-France)
  2. Akahata A.C. (Argentina)
  3. Amnesty International
  4. Arab Network for Knowledge about Human rights (ANKH association)
  5. Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND)
  6. ARCI
  7. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
  8. Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
  9. Association Beity (Tunisie)
  10. Association de Défense des Libertés Individuelles (ADLI-Tunisie)
  11. Association for Progressive Communications – APC
  12. Association Tunisienne des Femmes démocrates (ATFD-Tunisie)
  13. Association Yakadha pour la démocratie et l’État civique (Tunisie)
  14. Awan Organization – Iraq
  15. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
  16. Center for Reproductive Rights
  17. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)
  18. CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
  19. Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL)
  20. Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunisia (CRLDHT)
  21. Conectas Direitos Humanos
  22. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
  23. EuroMed Rights
  24. Federation for Women and Family Planning (Poland)
  25. Forum Tunisien pour les Droits Économiques et Sociaux (FTDES-Tunisie)
  26. Freedom House
  27. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  28. ILGA World
  29. Initiative franco-égyptienne pour les Droits et les Libertés
  30. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  31. International Service for Human Rights
  32. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific)
  33. La Coalition Tunisienne Contre la Peine de Mort
  34. Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada (LRWC)
  35. LIBERA associazioni nomi e numeri contro le mafie (Italy)
  36. Ligue Tunisienne de Défense des droits de l’Homme
  37. MENA Rights Group
  38. Minority Rights Group International (MRG)
  39. Pan Africa ILGA
  40. Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
  41. RESURJ Alliance
  42. Sexual Rights Initiative
  43. Solidarity Is Global Institute (JORDAN)
  44. Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression
  45. Tamazight Women’s Movement (LIBYA)
  46. The Egyptian Human Rights Forum (EHRF)
  47. The Freedom Initiative (Washington DC)
  48. The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
  49. Women’s March Global
  50. World Movement for Democracy
  51. World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

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