How to Survive Between a Rock and A Hard Place: The Experience of Human Rights Organizations in Egypt

First published by here by Dejusticia in April 2018 as part of their book Rising to the Populist Challenge: A Playbook for Human Rights Actors

Summary:Over the period from 2014 to 2017, the Egyptian government cracked down in an unprecedented fury on human rights defenders in particular and the civil society in General (including political parties, trade unions, student unions, sports clubs, etc.). Unlike previous regimes which worried about international reactions and, to a lesser extent, wanted to maintain an appearance of a relative freedom of association, the current regime feels far more empowered on both fronts. It has committed some of the most egregious human rights violations in Egypt’s modern history with impunity, crushed almost all forms of public dissent, killed over a thousand protestors in the span of a few days, imprisoned tens of thousands of people, and, finally, has been strangulating and demonizing human rights actors by drying up their funding streams, especially from foreign sources. The regime has resorted to the other weapons in the authoritarian arsenal including restrictive laws and regulations, vilifications and labeling, censoring independent media, and embroiling HRDs in court cases with charges ranging from harm to national security to tax evasion. Domestically, it seems that the regime has mollified the protest movement that reached a zenith in mid 2013, though anger, probably fueled by the persistence of deteriorating socioeconomic problems, seems to be simmering. In this the regime has benefitted from the prominence of counterterrorism, stemming the waves of immigration from the region and stability; these three concerns seem to dominate the foreign policy decisions of the US, western Europe, Israel and rich Arab gulf countries. And this is why the current regime has received their support or their silence in the past four years.

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