WASHINGTON (Middle East Eye) – A group of more than 50 Democratic lawmakers have sent a letter to U.S. President Joe Biden, urging him to use his platform at the Cop27 climate conference to shine a light on Egypt’s crackdown on human rights, call for the release of political prisoners, and urge for all of civil society’s participation in the summit.
The effort has been led by Senator Chris Murphy and Congressman David Cicilline, who both sit on their respective chambers’ foreign relations subcommittees on the Middle East. The letter’s signatories include Senators Jeff Merkeley, Dick Durbin, and Patrick Leahy, as well as House lawmakers Ro Khanna, Rashida Tlaib, and Barbara Lee, among others.
The lawmakers said they were “deeply troubled by the message it sends to the world that the Egyptian government is hosting COP27 while imprisoning tens of thousands of political prisoners - including many environmental activists”.
“Egypt’s record of egregious human rights violations is inconsistent with what the United States should expect from a key international security partner,” the letter said.
“With the world’s attention on Sharm el-Sheikh this month, COP27 presents a unique opportunity for the United States to press the Egyptian government to release these activists and demonstrate its commitment to inclusive engagement with the full range of stakeholders on climate solutions.”
Over the past several weeks, Egyptian authorities have tightened their grip over protesters as the country prepares to host the summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh between 6 and 18 November.
Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities have arrested at least 118 people in the past two weeks for calling for protests during the Cop27 UN climate conference against the spiraling cost of living.
Since 25 October, at least 118 Egyptians have been charged by Egypt’s public prosecution after being arrested at make-shift checkpoints or taken from their homes, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher Hussein Bayoumi told Middle East Eye.
Bayoumi told MEE that the real number of detainees might be higher and that several people were arrested based solely on a photo or a post they shared on social media.
He said that the authorities had referred the detainees to the State Security Prosecution, which is responsible for grave offences such as terrorism.
“Ironically, there was no mentioning of calling for a protest in the accusation files that we have seen,” Bayoumi told MEE.