Human rights defender detained and tortured
Patrick Zaki was a human rights' researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), with a focus on gender and sexual minorities. Since August 2019, he moved to Italy to do his Masters in Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Bologna.
Patrick's arrest comes in the context of the post-September 2019 protest crackdown, the largest on dissenting voices since 2014. His arrest warrant was dated 24 September 2019. He joined the long list of human rights defenders and peaceful political activists behind bars in Egypt including Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed el-Baqer, Mahienour el-Masry.
On 20 September 2019, scattered protests broke across Egyptian cities, calling on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to resign. The protests had been triggered by viral videos in which Mohamed Ali, a former army contractor, accused army leaders and the president of wasting public money on building luxury properties. In the weeks that followed, Amnesty International documented how the Egyptian security forces carried out sweeping arrests of peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, and political figures in a bid to silence critics and deter further protests from taking place. According to Egyptian human rights lawyers, the authorities have arrested at least 4,000 individuals in relation to their perceived participation or support of the protests. The authorities ordered the pre-trial detention of at least 3,715 pending investigations over “terrorism” related charges in the largest single protests-related criminal investigation in Egypt’s history.