Action Alert: Egypt – Mass arrests of political opposition members ahead of parliamentary elections

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Islamic Human Rights Commission

26 November 2010

Action Alert: Egypt – Mass arrests of political opposition members ahead of parliamentary elections

1. Summary
2. Background

1. Summary

Emergency Law which has been in force since President Mubarak came to office 30 years ago, is currently being used to  arrest and detain without charge as well as disperse campaign rallies and demonstrations.

As the November, 28, 2010 parliamentary elections approach, human rights violations in Egypt escalates. Thousands of members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the leading political opposition, have been detained.

Members and supporters of the MB have been arrested, including women as well as passersby from the street who are uninvolved in political activities. Numerous homes were raided by state forces. Heavy handed techniques by police during MB rallies resulted in serious injuries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

2. Background

The MB party, known to be the strongest opposition group in Egypt (which won 88 seats in the past parliamentary elections) is under severe attack and restrictions ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections.
The government is increasingly using violence against members, candidates, supporters and voters of the MB. The MB originally agreed to boycott the elections, however other opposition parties did not follow suit and so the boycott was not implemented.  

On Monday, November 22, Head of the MB parliamentary bloc, Dr. Mohamed Saad el-Katatny, was attacked by thugs with knives and metal batons; however the assassination attempt failed.  

Candidates of the MB were crossed off the parliamentary nominees list on allegations that their papers were not complete, despite having all papers with them and meeting all the conditions outlined for candidacy.

Egyptian private satellite TV channels have been suspended in fear of promoting political campaigning by the opposition.

The Egyptian opposition parties have been denied the equal opportunity to advertise and promote their electoral campaign as the ruling party does. Egyptian TV channels allow adverts only for the ruling party.

MB media spokesman, Dr. Mors, criticized the current atmosphere in Egypt where arbitrary arrests, thug attacks and intimidation of the opposition ahead of elections is the norm.  According to the MB media outlet, 1200 members of the MB have been detained since it announced it would vie for seats in parliament.

The ruling party in Egypt, is accused by the opposition of aiming to falsify the election results and increasing voter turnout.

The government has also restricted judicial supervision on elections and established the High Elections Committee (HEC) to supervise the elections. The HEC has been accused of lacking transparency by the MB and other opposition groups.

Egyptian opposition groups are already calling for re-elections and holding a substitute parliament. The 2010 parliamentary elections, which is a turning point in Egypt, will indicate the same fairness, freedom and transparency in the 2011 presidential elections.

IHRC calls on the Egyptian government to end assaults by security forces on parliamentary candidates and to carry out their duties of protecting voters and ballot boxes. Intimidation and attacks against citizens contravenes Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Egypt ratified in 1982 and states:
 “Every citizen shall have the right and the opportunity, without any of the distinctions mentioned in article 2 and without unreasonable restrictions:

(a) To take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; (b) To vote and to be elected at genuine periodic elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret ballot, guaranteeing the free expression of the will of the electors.”

IHRC also calls on the government to stick to its promises of achieving integrity during elections and holding free and fair elections.

IHRC urges campaigners to write to the UK foreign office and the British embassies all over the world urging them to ensure that the elections process is going to be free and fair.


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“And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.”
Holy Qur’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183