Thursday, February 16, 2012

Egyptian human rights groups: impending trial of 43 NGO workers politically motivated

 Egyptian human rights groups condemned Wednesday the impending trial of 43 democracy activists as politically motivated. In December, prosecutors and special forces raided 17 nongovernmental organisations' offices and confiscated their equipment. In January it was announced that dozens of Egyptians, Americans and activists of other nationalities had been referred to a criminal court.
The 29 rights groups, including the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said the investigation and trials aim to suggest the existence of a "wide-ranging conspiracy targeting the stability and unity of the country and to paint international civil society groups as a danger to state security." This was done in order ''to distract attention from the catastrophic failure of the political administration and from the daily massacre of Egyptians without accountability,'' they said.
 The organisations said the ministry of justice, other government parties and the two investigating judges had been conducting already a kind of a trial by making vague accusations in the press for five months." They also said that the investigations had been conducted in an improper manner (in government ministries) and that the two investigating judges had been handpicked and had long been working with the now defunct State Security Service under Mubarak and had been covering up torture and other abuses.
 Minister Fayza Abul Naga of international cooperation, one of the few remaining ministers from the Mubarak era, is seen as the driving force behind the trials. She had told investigators that Washington funded the NGOs  to create a state of prolonged chaos in Egypt.
The affair has created soe tension between Egypt and the US, with American lawmakers warning the crackdown could jeopardise more than $1 billion in annual US aid to Egypt. This in turn drew a reaction from the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Mohammed Morsi. He warned that the peace treaty with Israel could come under review if US aid were cut off. "American aid is a part of the Camp David accord between Egypt and Israel ... There is no place for discussing the aid outside the framework of that accord," Morsi said in a statement.

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