In the lead up to the October 11th trial of seven Egyptian women human rights defenders (WHRDs), who have been detained since June 21, 2014 on charges of violating Egypt’s strict Protest and Public Assembly Law, over 220 women’s and human rights organizations representing nearly 70 countries issued a statement demanding their immediate release.

The signatories to the statement, which include local, national, regional and international groups from across the globe, urge the Egyptian authorities to unconditionally release the WHRDs and drop all charges against them and others detained for exercising rights to peaceful assembly.  Those signing the statement also strongly urged Egyptian authorities to revise the Protest and Public Assembly Law, which severely limits freedom of expression, assembly and association rights of Egyptians, to bring it in line with the Egyptian Constitution and African and international human rights standards.  Egyptian authorities have in the past year taken a tough stance against civil society groups and civil activism, including public protests. Human rights organizations inside the country and internationally have criticized Egyptian authorities for what they view as serious repressive policies when it comes to civil society activism and public civic engagement and have repeatedly encouraged the adoption of measures that encourage civic participation and free expression and are in line with the spirit of the January 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

The text of the statement and the signatories appear below. Those interested in adding their names to the list of signatories can do so at this link: http://goo.gl/forms/55wChTGZWr.

Those interested in publicizing the statement are encouraged to post it on their websites and to distribute it broadly to their networks including to media outlets. The hashtag #FreeEgyptWHRDs can be used in this regard on social media.

The text of the statement follows:

 Free Egyptian Women Human Rights Defenders

We, the signatories to this statement representing women’s rights and human rights organizations internationally and based in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, call upon Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Sherif (known as Nahid Bebo) and Fikreya Mohamed (known as Rania El-Sheikh), seven women human rights defenders (WHRDs) detained since June 21, 2014 on charges of violating the Protest and Public Assembly Law. We strongly urge Egyptian authorities to unconditionally drop all charges against these WHRDs, and other human rights defenders, relating to the legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Further, we call on the Egyptian authorities to revise the Protest and Public Assembly Law in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution and international standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

Background:

On June 21, 2014, the seven WHRDs were arrested in Heliopolis, Cairo on the sidelines of and in relation to a peaceful protest against the Protest and Public Assembly Law. After using tear gas and birdshot to disperse the crowd, the police arrested Yara Sallam, Sanaa Seif, Hanan Mustafa Mohamed, Salwa Mihriz, Samar Ibrahim, Nahid Sherif and Fikreya Mohamed, in addition to several other human rights defenders. Since their arrest, they have been detained in Qanater women’s prison. The charges against all those detained stem from the Protest and Public Assembly Law and include: participating and organizing an unauthorized demonstration that “threatened public security”, “use of force and violence to terrorize and intimidate citizens”, and “intentional destruction of property”.

The first session of their case, also known as the Ittihadia Presidential Palace Case, was held on June 29, 2014. During this hearing, the judge adjourned the session and postponed it until September 13, 2014. At the second session, on September 13, 2014, the prosecution’s evidence was presented to the court. The defense attorneys requested the postponement in order to allow a technical expert to examine and determine the veracity of the video footage evidence presented during the session. The judge again postponed the trial until October 11, 2014, at which time the defense is supposed to be given an opportunity to present its case.

As a result of these delays, these seven WHRDs have remained in prison for over three months pending investigations. Two of the detainees, Ms. Fikreya Mohammed and Ms. Sanaa Seif, were on hunger strike to protest their arbitrary arrest. Ms. Seif’s hunger strike began on August 28 and Ms. Mohammed began her strike on September 11, 2014, and latest news is that she has had to suspend her hunger strike. As a result, both face serious health risks and are extremely weak.

It should be noted that while in detention, the father of Sanaa Seif, prominent Egyptian HRD Ahmed Seif El-Islam passed away. He was also the father of prominent Egyptian HRD Alaa Abdel Fattah, who was recently released on bail.

Signatories to the statement:

Organization Name Country
1325 Action Group Nepal
ABANTU FOR DEVELOPMENT Ghana
ABIA Brazil/USA
Access Chapter 2 South Africa
ACDemocracia Ecuador
ACEP New Zealand
ACT Egypt
Action Canada for Population and Development Canada
Acuarelas, Mujeres en Movimiento Asociación Civil Argentina
ACUNS Vienna Austria
Advocacy for Widows Empowerment Foundation (ADWEF) Nigeria
Advocates for Youth USA
Afghan Women’s Network (AWN) Afghanistan
African Women’s Active Nonviolence Initiatives for Social Change (AWANICh) Ghana
AIDOS. Italian Association for Women in Development Italy, The Middle East
Akahata A.C. Argentina
Alliances for Africa Nigeria
Alternativas Pacificas AC Mexico
AMDH Morocco
Amnesty International Nepal Nepal
Amnistía Internacional Venezuela
Ankiram Woman and Child development Society India
Asamblea de Mujeres de Quito Ecuadir
Asia-Japan Women’s Resource Center Japan
Associação ComuniDária Portugal
Association Dea Dia Serbia
Association for Progressive Communications South Africa/International
Association of War Affected Women Sri Lanka
Association Tunisienne Femmes Démocrates (ATFD) Tunisia
AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development) International
Azidi Solidarity and Fraternity League Iraq
Barbra Schlifer Clinic Canada
Beit el Hanane Lebanon
BRIDGE, IDS United Kingdom
Bridges for Women Iran
Calala Women’s Fund Spain
Cambodian Center for Human Rights Cambodia
Catapult USA
CEE Network for Gender Issues Slovenia
CEJIP Bolivia
Center for Gender Studies Ethiopia
Center for Health and Gender Equality USA
Center for Peace Education, Miriam College Philippines
Centre for Action Research Pakistan
Centre for Economic Social Cultural Rights in Africa (CESCRA) Uganda
Centre for Research, Advocacy, Women and Youth Development Nigeria
Centre for Secular Space (CSS) United Kingdom
Centro de Información y Servicios de Asesoría en Salud Nicaragua
Centro de Promoción y Estudios de la Mujer Andina “Lulay” – CEPEMA “Lulay” Perú
Change for Equality Iran
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation International
C AL Network South Africa/Africa, regional
Colectiva Ciudad y Género AC Mexico
Colectiva Feminista en Construcción Puerto Rico
Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo Local El Salvador
Colectivo Feminista Panteras Rosas Nicaragua
Collation on Rights and Responsibilities of Youth Pakistan
Comercio Justo Uruguay
Consutoría Multidisciplinaria en Desarrollo Humano México
Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer Puerto Rico
Corporación Red Nacional de Mujeres Comunales, Comunitarias, Indígenas y Campesinas de la República de Colombia Colombia
Crossroads International Canada
Department of Women Affairs Bangladesh
Development and Leadership Centre Lesotho
Development Organization for Community DOC Pakistan
Development Organization for Social Transformation (DOST) Pakistan
EIMAN UK
Euroregional Center for Public Initiatives Romania
FDH-NGABO asbl Democratic Republic of Congo
Federation for Women and Family Planning Poland
FeministsSA.com South Africa
FGHR India
FOCO INPADE Argentina
FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development Norway
 UN CEDAW Committee Bangladesh
Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) Uganda
Freischwimmen e.V. Germany
FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund México
Front Line Defenders (FLD) Ireland
Fundacao Feto iha Kbiit Servisu Hamutuk (FFKSH) Timor-Leste
Getting Right for Every Runaway Child UK
Global Concerns India India
Global Fund for Women San Francisco
Global Network of Women Peacebuilders USA
Good Shepherd Centre for Teenage Mothers Lesotho
Gulf Foundation Netherlands/Gulf region
Haurralde Fundazioa Spain
Hisar Anadolu Support Society (HADD) TURKEY
Human Rights First USA
Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos) The Netherlands
Humanity Support Foundation Pakistan
Hunger Reduction International Somalia
IDAHOT International
IEWO International
IKFF Växjökretsen Sweden
IM – SOIR Sweden
INCIEDYT México
Institute for Science and Human Values, Inc United States
Instituto de Educación para las Mujeres México
Instituto RUNA Perú
Integrated Women and Children’s Development Activities (IWCDA) Uganda
InterLGBT France
International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) International
International Women’s Rights Project Canada
Intitut Hak Asasi Perempuan Indonesia
Iraqi Al-Amal Association Iraq
Iraqi Women Network Iraq
Iraqi Al-Firdaws Society Iraq
JASS (Just Associates) International
JASS Southern Africa South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi
Jessica Reyes Sánchez México
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) – New York City chapter USA
Justice and Peace Commission Mexico
Kalidasdih Mohan Mahato Foundation India
Knights For Peace, International Philippines
Labour Education Organisation Pakistan
Ligue du Droit International des Femmes France
Ligue Life ONG Bénin
Linksbridge SPC United States
MADRE United States
Makerere University Uganda
Mauj Development Foundation Pakistan
Media Advocacy Group (MAG) Nepal
Medica Mondiale e.V. Germany
Metamorphosis Serbia
MGARO Tanzania
Middle East Studies Association (MESA) United States
Mothers for Active Non-Violence (MOFAN-V) Ghana
Movimiento Amplio de Mujeres Puerto Rico
Movimiento Amplio de MujeresP Puerto Rico
Mujer y Salud en Uruguay – MYSU Uruguay
Mujer y Sociedad Perú
Mujeres por la Vida Contra la VD Uruguay
Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) USA
Najaat Welfare Foundation Pakistan
National Council of Social Welfare India
Noble Aims Welfare Association Pakistan
O-livestream USA
Oficina Jurídica Para la Mujer Bolivia
ORGENS Senegal
Parliament of the World’s Religions USA/International
Peace Foundation Pakistan Pakistan
Pen International International
PEN International, UK Chapter UK
Planeta Mujer Mexico
Plataforma Española de Jovenes contra la violencia de genero Spain
Prabha Khosla Consulting Canada
Pro Mujeres Puerto Rico
PRO-LINK Ghana
Progressive Center for Equality, Symbiosis & Solidarity (PROCESS) India
Quality of Citizenship Jamaica Jamaica
Reach India India
Red de Empoderamiento de Mujeres de Cartagena Colombia
Red Mesa de Mujeres de Cd Juárez A.C. México
REFH France
Refugees Solidarity Movement Egypt
RIFA Rights For All Rwanda
Runu India
RUPSA Bangladesh
Rural Women’s Development and Unity Centre Nepal
Rwanda Association of University Women Rwanda
Saathi Nepal
SAFECO – Synergy of Congolese Women’s Associations DR Congo
Samanata-Institute for Social and Gender Equality Nepal
Samsara Indonesia
Save The Children Egypt Syria
Sawt al Niswa Lebanon
Seres Portugal
Sexuality Policy Watch Brazil & US
Sharedream Ireland
Shreela Debi India
Sisters in Islam Malaysia
Social Transformative Action Network for Development (STAND) Sri Lanka
Socialist Feminist Collective Turkey
Solveig Senft Germany
Somali Youth Voluntary Group Association (SOYVGA) Somalia
SOS Sexisme France
Sree Saraswathi Thyagaraja College India
Steps Towards Development Bangladesh
STEWARDWOMEN South Sudan
SWL Syria
Takal Welfare Organization Pakistan
Tanagra M. Melgarejo Puerto Rico
TESO WOMEN PEACE ACTIVISTS (TEWPA) Uganda
Association of British Muslims United Kingdom
Coalition for Action 1325 Uganda
MATCH International Women’s Fund Canada
Trailblazerz Mentoring Foundation Uganda
Trinamul Nari Uddyakta Society (Grassroots) Bangladesh
Uganda Public Rescue Foundation Uganda
Under the Rainbow South Africa
Union de l’Action Féministe Morocco
Urgent Action Fund (UAF) Africa
Ved International Society India
VIDA LESBI Peru
Warvin Foundation for Women’s Issues (WFWI) Iraq
West Africa Social Entrepreneurs Network Ghana
WHER Nigeria
Wi’am, Palestinian Conflict,Transformation Center Palestine
WILPF French section France
ًWogood for Human Security Foundation Yemen
Women & Children’s Empowerment Network in Africa Uganda
Women Business Center South Africa
Women Development Initiatives (WODI) Nigeria
Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – NEW WAYS Turkey
Women in Action against Gender Based Violence (WACameroon) Cameroon
Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) International
Women of Halton Action Movement Canada
Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR) Philippines
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom  (WILPF) Switzerland
Women’s Information Center Georgia
WomenCentre UK
World Learn, School for International Training Uganda
World March of Women France
WUNRN Global
YFW Belize
Young Knights Zimbabwe
Young Professional Development Society Nepal (YPDSN) Nepal
Young Women for Change Mongolia
Youth Afrique Leadership Forum Nigeria
Zawadisha USA

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