Sisi

Protest against Sisi’s reent visit to London. Photo by Alisdare Hickson.

I believe that Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah El-Sisi should not have been welcomed to Downing Street by David Cameron, for the following reasons:

  1. In the first seven months after Sisi overthrew [former President] Morsi in a coup, 2,528 civilians were killed in ‘protests or clashes’. This included at least 817 people who lost their lives in the Rabaa massacre, which Human Rights Watch (HRW)  said probably amounted to a ‘crime against humanity’. HRW’s executive director Ken Roth described it as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history”.
  2. Under Sisi, Egypt has become the second largest jailer of political dissidents in the Arab World, with 41,163 arrests between July 2013 and May 2014. One such example is 19 year old Mahmoud Hussein, who has been detained for more than 600 days and tortured for wearing a ‘nation without torture’ t-shirt.
  3. Human right group FIDH has accused security forces of increasingly using sexual violence as a weapon against NGO members and students. This ‘surge’ in sexual violence by the state has included acts of rape, electrocution of the genitals, sexual assault and rape with objects. In one of the most shocking cases, 54 pro-Morsi women were allegedly raped in detention – two of them said they were raped 14 times in one day.
  4. Reports of torture have sky-rocketed, including against children arrested for protesting. Methods include electrocution, beatings and sexual abuse.
  5. Egypt has been systematically ‘disappearing’ detainees. In August and September, there were 215 disappearances documented and 163 from April to June. One of Egypt’s most notorious prisons – Azouli – allegedly houses up to 400 ‘dissapeared’ detainees, subjecting them to systematic torture
  6. Press freedom has deteriorated sharply under Sisi. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 18 journalists are currently behind bars in Egypt. These include ‘Shawkan’ who has been detained for 814 days and Abdullah Al-Fakharany, who has been sentenced to life in prison. At least six journalists, including Sky’s Mick Deane, have also been killed in Egypt since the coup, mostly at the hands of the security forces.
  7. Deaths in custody have also soared. NGOs documented more than 124 deaths between August 2013 and June 2015 due to medical negligence, torture and ill-treatment.
  8. Security forces stand accused of summary executions of detainees. In July, nine Muslim Brotherhood members were allegedly detained, tortured and then killed. Hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members have also been sentenced to death after sham trials, including former President Morsi.
  9. Egypt’s gay community has faced an intensified crackdown under Sisi, with 150 men arrested/tried in 2014 and continued use of ‘anal examinations’.
  10. Other minorities have also faced discrimination. In February 2014, a Shia Muslim was sentenced to five years in prison for ‘blasphemy’. In January this year, an atheist student was sentenced to three years in prison for ‘insulting Islam’. Coptic Christians also face discrimination and violence.
  11. In the Sinai, there have been reports of indiscriminate violence by the army during counter-terror ops leading to scores of civilian deaths. At least 3,200 families have been forcibly evicted during these operations, with thousands of homes razed along the Gaza border to destroy tunnels.

This is isn’t even close to a comprehensive list of human rights abuses under Sisi. The sad thing is there is so much more I could say but I hope this has made it clear that what we are seeing in Egypt today is not your run-of-the-mill authoritarianism, but something much uglier. Cameron should not be legitimising a regime with so much blood on its hands. The fact that he has is an insult to countless victims.