In Advocacy, News, Press Releases

By Coptic Solidarity
For Immediate Release

Coptic Solidarity today launched an online advocacy campaign to secure the release of imprisoned Coptic human rights activist and blogger, Ramy Kamel. Kamel was arrested under false charges by Egyptian authorities on November 23, 2019. Coptic Solidarity is extremely concerned about his safety as he has already been beaten twice within the last month by security forces.

Coptic Solidarity President, Ms. Caroline Doss Esq., states, “Please join us in speaking out for Ramy, urging the Egyptian government to provide immediate protection, medical treatment, and release from prison.”

Coptic Solidarity has provided a sample message in English and Arabic which supporters can edit or send as is. It will be delivered directly to the inboxes of top Egyptian officials, alerting them that the international community is aware of their mistreatment of Kamel and demanding accountability, and ultimately his release.

Rights groups almost universally agree that Kamel’s arrest is a direct effort by the Egyptian government to punish and silence him for documenting and publicizing human rights abuses against Christians. Kamel is the founder and coordinator of the Maspero Youth Union, a Christian human rights organization founded in 2011 after the infamous Maspero Massacre in which 27 Copts were killed by the Egyptian military while peacefully protesting a church closure.

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) reported that Kamel was invited to participate in a UN forum (November 28th and 29th) titled Education, Language, and the Human Rights of Minorities as a leading advocate and as an individual who met and collaborated with the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Fahra, when she visited Egypt in September 2018. Kamel’s focus was on Christians who have been displaced from their homes by the government’s actions, including development, counter-terrorism efforts, and faith-based persecution.

He was summoned by the government, transferred in an armored vehicle to National Security headquarters in Nasr City, just 18 days prior to his November arrest. During this time, Kamel was severely beaten and tortured. He suffered interrogation without legal representation in an effort to compel him to reveal his research sources, and likely to intimidate him prior to participating at the UN Forum.

Around 1:30 AM on November 23, Kamel’s house was stormed by security forces who confiscated his phone, camera, and laptop and arrested him. Kamel was again beaten by security forces.  Several hours later he was brought to the headquarters of the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement neighborhood. Kamel was interrogated again without legal representation.

According to CIHRS, on November 24, Kamel was sentenced to 15 days in prison pending investigation in Case no. 1475 of 2019, which is the very same one under which a labor activist named Khalil Rizk was charged. Rizk was the last person for whom Kamel had advocated and posted about publicly.

CIHRS reported that other Egyptian activists who cooperated with UN officials have also been harassed and some banned from leaving Egypt. Kamel was charged by the State Security Prosecutor with joining and financing a terrorist group under Case no. 1475 of 2019, among other charges. Another Christian prosecuted with the same charge, Andrew Wassef, was sentenced to 5 years in prison, setting a concerning precedent.

Coptic Solidarity urges interested individuals to take action immediately and to share the campaign within their communities to create greater pressure on the Egyptian government to release Kamel.

Coptic Solidarity is an organization seeking to help minorities, particularly the Copts, of Egypt. We support those in Egypt working for democracy, freedom, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens, and advocate in cooperation with the affiliated organizations in Canada and in Europe (Solidarité Copte). For more information, contact Lindsay Griffin at 801-512-1713 or coptadvocacy@copticsolidarity.org

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