By: World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) –
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Ramy Kamel, a defender of religious minorities’ rights. He is a member of the Maspero Youth Union (MYU), a Coptic human rights organisation.
According to the information received, in the early morning of November 23, 2019, Mr. Ramy Kamel was arrested at his home in Cairo by seven plainclothes police officers. Police officers did not provide an arrest warrant, confiscated his mobile phone, laptop and camera and took a number of documents relating to his work.Mr. Kamel was interrogated by State Security Prosecution until 10 pm. and his lawyer was only able to see him the next day, on November 24. He was reportedly subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Mr. Ramy Kamel has asthma and was not allowed to bring his inhaler. Mr. Ramy Kamel is accused of “joining a terror group”, “receiving foreign funding”, “funding a terrorist group”, “broadcasting false information”, and “using social media for the purpose of committing a crime”, under State Security Case No. 1475/2019. On November 24, Mr. Kamel was put under pre-trial detention at Tora prison, south-east Cairo, for 15 renewable days.
Mr. Ramy Kamel has a wide range of activism in promoting Coptic rights and citizenship, including reporting on violations against Copts in Egypt, especially those who were forcibly evicted from their homes, or victims of customary reconciliation sessions, and recently he expressed doubts about whether State security was behind the recent church fires or not. A few days before his arrest, Mr. Ramy Kamel had already beeninformally summoned and interrogated by national security officers, who questioned and threatened him over his activism.
The Observatory recalls that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Ramy Kamel comes amid renewed crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civil society in Egypt, that arose since the outbreak of popular protests across the country on September 20, 2019, calling for the resignation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Ramy Kamel, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Ramy Kamel, and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all the human rights defenders in Egypt.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
MYU was established after a church on the outskirts of Cairo was torched, igniting huge protests outside the Maspero state television building in October 2011. Nearly 30 people died after violent attacks against protesters from the security forces.
Christians in Egypt have faced unprecedented persecution since the rise of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power in 2014. Hundreds of them have been forced to flee from their home, for example in northern Sinai.
See for example Observatory Urgent Appeals EGY 006 / 1019 / OBS 079, published on October 15, 2019 ; EGY 004 / 0919 / OBS 075.2, published on October 10, 2019 ; EGY 005 / 0919 / OBS 076.1, published on October 4, 2019 ; or EGY 003 / 0919 / OBS 074, published on September 23, 2019.