by Michel Brandt, Christine Buchholz, Özlem Alev Demirel, Cornelia Ernst, Andrej Hunko, Zaklin Nastic, Tobias Pflüger, and Martin Schirdewan
Ten years ago, Egyptians took to the streets demanding “bread, freedom, and social justice.” While the world’s attention was focused on Tahrir Square, Egyptian socialists took the struggle into factories and workplaces. Their efforts helped organize the strikes that ultimately forced former president Hosni Mubarak to resign. Even after Mubarak’s fall, Egyptian socialists are still working tirelessly for social justice and freedom.
Since Abdelfattah Al-Sisi took power by force, elementary civil liberties have been suspended in Egypt. Al-Sisi launched a so-called “war on terror” and imprisoned more than 60,000 political prisoners. Among them are Islamists, liberals, leftists, trade unionists, journalists, and human rights defenders. Independent trade unions and youth organizations have been crushed.
Torture is commonplace in Egyptian police stations. At least 57 people were killed in a series of executions in early December 2020 alone. Amnesty International suspects the number of executions is even higher. The arrest of human rights defenders from the renowned human rights organization Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the few still active in Egypt, was – despite their release after three weeks – a new low point for human rights in Egypt.
Despite its systematic repressive action against civil society, the German government continues to court Al-Sisi’s regime. The former Egyptian ambassador to Berlin received the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in October 2020. Egypt was the main recipient of German war weapons exports in 2020, with exports totaling 585.9 million euros from January to September alone. The bilateral security agreement and provision of police support and equipment assistance was continued in 2020 – measures were only temporarily suspended due to restrictions during the COVID19 pandemic.
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Egyptian socialists and all Egyptians resisting the dictatorship. We demand a halt to weapon sales and the sale of surveillance technology to Al-Sisi’s regime as well as a permanent suspension of German-Egyptian security cooperation.
We demand the immediate release of all political prisoners. With this appeal, we point to the fate of six of the 60,000 political prisoners as examples. They are socialists who were active in different social fields:
Ayman Abdel-Moati was arrested at his workplace on October 18, 2018, accused of “colluding with a terrorist group to achieve its goals and spreading false news and statements.” These accusations are part of a standard repertoire of fabricated charges leveled against dissidents by the Egyptian regime.
Haytham Mohammadein has been advocating for independent trade unionists for years. He has been in pre-trial detention since May 12, 2019 on fabricated charges. These include “spreading fake news” and “membership in an illegal organization.”
Hisham Fouad was a key figure in the movement against the war on Iraq and in solidarity with striking workers and independent unions. He was arrested on June 25, 2020, and charged with “economic conspiracy to finance a terrorist organization.”
Khalil Rizk is a public transport employee, particularly involved in union organizing. He was arrested in his neighborhood in Cairo on November 17, 2019, and was charged with “participating in a terrorist group, spreading fake news, and misusing social media.”
Mahienour is a human rights lawyer from Alexandria. She has been arrested several times on trumped-up charges – including “spreading fake news” and “membership in an illegal terrorist organization” – most recently on September 22, 2019.
Patrick George Zaki is a gender researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He was arrested on February 7, 2020, at Cairo Airport during his arrival from Italy, where he was studying. Patrick was tortured with electric shocks and remains in pre-trial detention on fabricated charges such as “misusing social media” and “spreading fake news.”
- Michel Brandt, Member of Parliament for Die LINKE parliamentary group, Member of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid.
- Christine Buchholz, Member of Parliament for Die LINKE parliamentary group, Member of the Defense Committee
- Özlem Alev Demirel, Member of the European Parliament for The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL, Vice-President of the Subcommittee on Security and Defense
- Cornelia Ernst, Member of the European Parliament for The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL
- Andrej Hunko, Member of Parliament for Die LINKE parliamentary group, Vice Chairman of Die LINKE parliamentary group
- Zaklin Nastic, Member of Parliament for Die LINKE parliamentary group, Member of the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid
- Tobias Pflüger, Member of Parliament for Die LINKE parliamentary group, Member of the Defense Committee
- Martin Schirdewan, Member of the European Parliament for The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL, Co-Chairman of The Left group in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL
More information about the campaign to free Egyptian political prisoners here.