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Shut in, but not shut up! Case 173 update

© Margaret Robertson

Members of Bognor and Chichester and Horsham Amnesty International Groups, undeterred by Covid 19 restrictions, met online on 29 October 2020, to continue campaigning against human rights violations in Egypt. The focus of their current campaign is an appeal for the lifting of travel bans and freezes on the assets of a number of charities and Non Government Organisations in Egypt as part of the notorious Case 173 legal action.  

Case 173 is a legal action brought against a number of prominent human rights defenders including lawyers, such as Azza Soliman, a female lawyer in Cairo. Their legal appeal was rejected by the Egyptian courts in June 2020 but Amnesty members are continuing to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to reconsider the decision and drop charges against them.

The current campaign is breaking new ground for the local Amnesty groups who are finding it difficult to meet to pursue their usual campaigning activities during the pandemic.

Egyptian Campaign Coordinator, Margaret Robertson, said: ‘It has been a challenge to find new and creative ways to get our members together to campaign safely and we have had to develop a range of new online tactics during the Covid Crisis. We are currently asking campaigners to use their creativity, imagination, even humour, to create original images of the number 173 to send to President al-Sisi and the Egyptian embassy in London to express opposition to the repressive tactics used by the regime. I have been impressed by the ingenuity and originality of members’ who have used flowers, lego, shells, candles, Egyptian hieroglyphics and even tulip bulbs to illustrate the number 173 in their messages.’

The group plan to send a steady flow of messages to the Egyptian authorities and hope that their quirky and dramatic images will have an impact. The Egyptian government is very sensitive to international disapproval and has already modified some aspects of the NGO Law in response to foreign criticism so it is hoped that these appeals will persuade them to drop the Case 173 charges.

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