On Thursday, Human Rights Watch said Egyptian authorities arrested hundreds in a nationwide crackdown following calls for anti-government protests. Those arrested, it said, included journalists, activists, a prominent human rights lawyer, and a member of an opposition political party participating in a national dialogue process that initially raised hopes that the authorities would ease repression of dissent.
The rights group added that the ongoing crackdown, coinciding with Egypt’s hosting of the COP27 climate conference, increases fears that once the meeting ends, the authorities will likely retaliate against activists and dissidents who have criticized the government’s environmental and human rights record. “From surveillance to intimidation to arrests, the Egyptian authorities’ behaviour is sounding alarm bells about what might happen after COP27 ends,” said Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms has provided HRW with documents regarding the detention of nearly 700 people in 18 governorates within 45 days.
HRW said that Egypt’s human rights record cast a shadow over the climate conference, as many world leaders urged Egypt to release imprisoned political activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah. The German Embassy in Cairo also submitted a complaint to the government regarding surveillance operations the Egyptian security forces conducted at the conference. At the same time, the United Nations said that it was investigating the allegations. It was reported that the European Union and other delegations had raised concerns with the Egyptian government about the safety of their youth delegates after several of them were woken up at night in their hotel rooms by unidentified men who demanded to see their documents.