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PHR: Egyptian Security Forces Harass Torture Rehabilitation Group Amid Broad Crackdown on Civil Society

Following peaceful protests on September 20-21 in cities across Egypt, security forces of the authoritarian regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi are mounting a harsh crackdown on civil society organizations, activists, academics, and others. Human rights groups estimate that more than 3,100 people have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in recent weeks, including more than 100 children.

Amid this escalating suppression, plainclothes security forces are harassing and threatening staff and visitors of the renowned el-Nadeem Center For Management and Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, a Cairo-based human rights organization that provides treatment and support to survivors of torture and other violence. The el-Nadeem Center is a globally-respected champion for the rights and well-being of those who have endured torture in Egypt.

The following statement is attributable to Donna McKay, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights:

“We are gravely concerned by the mounting and systemic abuse of peaceful protestors, dissidents, and others arbitrarily swept up in President el-Sisi’s latest crackdown on civil society.

“Our colleagues at the el-Nadeem Center are steadfast advocates for the rights of those who have survived torture, a human rights violation which has been tragically common in Egypt. These professionals have been subjected to increasing harassment in recent weeks, including: receiving unofficial summons notices from groups who claim to be prosecutors; unannounced plainclothes security personnel entering the organization’s offices and harassing staff; visitors being reported to the police; and security groups accusing staff of ‘damaging the reputation of the country by publishing false statement, news and rumours,’ a serious offense in Egypt.

“Dr. Aida Seif Eldawla, one of the co-founders of the el-Nadeem Center, has been singled out for harassment by the authorities. She has been summoned to the al-Azbakeya prosecution office and is at severe risk of arbitrary arrest and detention.

“Physicians for Human Rights stands in solidarity with Dr. Aida Seif Eldawla, the staff of the el-Nadeem Center, and the torture survivors they support. We are deeply alarmed by these intrusions and call on the Egyptian government to respect the human rights and due process of all people.

“The el-Nadeem Center’s clinic was previously shut down by the government in 2017, under the pretext of administrative breaches. Now, under the guise of security and so-called anti-terrorism efforts, Egyptian authorities are trying to stamp out any form of public opposition or civil society.

“We are also deeply concerned by multiple credible reports of human rights advocates being tortured in detention facilities.  “Torture has no place in our world. Physicians for Human Rights has worked for decades to document the horrific tolls of torture, support the rehabilitation of survivors, pursue accountability for perpetrators, and end the practice of torture altogether. Groups like the el-Nadeem Center are essential to safeguard human rights and dignity in Egypt – the authoritarian regime must cease its harassment of the el-Nadeem Center immediately.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.

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