And on Tuesday evening, during the riotous event of COP27 organized by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in the German Climate Pavilion, El-Fattah’s sister, Sanaa Seif, who was previously arrested for opposing the law against illegal demonstrations – encouraged. speaking, calling his brother. “We need to restore the arena of local events, not as a place for profit, but as a place to discuss a better future for everyone,” said Seif. “Hope is important here. Our happy dreams may not come true, but if we abandon ourselves to our nightmares, we will be killed by fear before the flood comes.”
But the controversy that followed the incident exemplified the resistance of human rights activists: According to a Washington Post report, Egyptian lawmaker Amr Darwish stood up and shouted at Seif. “You are calling on foreign countries to put pressure on Egypt.” He continued to insult him until UN security escorted him out, the newspaper said.
Freedom organizations in Egypt have to deal with limited funding, harassment, and difficulties in organizing peaceful protests and press conferences. Some fear for their lives and are forced into exile. A small community meeting is enough to cast doubt on the conservation movement, says Ubrei-Joe Maimoni Mariere, an environmental activist in Nigeria for Friends of the Earth Africa, a non-profit group. “Egypt is not the best place to host the COP, because of the repression of the Egyptian government. Human rights activists are careful not to violate the country’s laws,” he says. they have the effects of climate change, such as polluted water and heat waves.
On Friday, US President Joe Biden will hold talks with El-Sisi, and he is expected to press him on issues of human rights in the country. Egypt has been a close ally of the US since the 1980s, and is one of the largest recipients of military aid from the United States, Russia, France, and Italy. At Tuesday’s event, Seif asked to reduce the aid. “Those weapons will be used against us. “You should reconsider your foreign policy in Egypt, because it is causing problems here,” he said.
Bahgat, a human rights activist in Egypt, says the situation for human rights activists has worsened since El-Sisi, a former army chief, took over. Ten years ago, when the Arab Spring culminated in the fall of then-president Mubarak, he says, people felt empowered. His organization helped people in western Egypt who, after being evicted from the nuclear plant, organized settlements, demanding repatriation or full compensation. Later, after the protest and the press conference, the government made a compensation plan. “I am telling you this story because every part of it is impossible to imagine today,” he says.
“The opposition that Human Rights Watch has seen also affects environmental groups, some directly and others in unknown ways, because some of these groups are activists who consider themselves and do not take part in other discussions that could get them into trouble,” said Katharina Rall, The group’s environmental researcher. An unanswered point of protest was already emerging before the COP27 conference, Rall says, when Indian activist Ajit Rajagopal began an eight-day march from Cairo to Sharm el-Sheikh, only to be arrested by the local military. Egypt on November 6. He was released the next day, but the message was clear.
The next UN climate conference, COP28, will be held in the United Arab Emirates in November 2023. That government has also been labeled as a repressive government. But an important message has already come out of COP27, Bahgat says: “There is no climate justice without human rights.”
Additional reporting by Gregory Barber.