ARTICLE 19 is calling for the immediate release of Egyptian activist and researcher Patrick George Zaki, who was arrested at Cairo airport on Friday February 7, 2020. Zaki, a researcher at the University of Bologna, was returning to Egypt for a family visit.
According to the the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), Zaki was “beaten, subjected to electric shocks, threatened, and questioned about various issues related to his work and activism”. (1)
Saloua Ghazouani Oueslati, Director of ARTICLE 19 MENA said:
“We demand the immediate release of Patrick George Zaki, and an end to the harassment of human rights defenders in Egypt. We believe that Patrick’s detention is politically motivated because of his criticism of el-Sisi’s regime and his campaigning work on behalf of vulnerable groups in Egypt, whose fundamental rights are under attack.”
“Zaki’s arrest is part of the Egyptian authorities ongoing assault on protest and dissent. We call on the Government to protect its citizens rights and end its use of arrest and detention to silence its critics.”
Researcher and campaigner
Zaki has been an outspoken critic of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s brutal regime and has campaigned for the rights of women, Christians and the LGBTQ+ community in Egypt. In 2017, he became a gender and human rights researcher for the EIPR before leaving to study in Italy in 2019.
Zaki also campaigned for justice for Giulio Regeni, the Italian student who was brutally murdered in Cairo in 2016. It is widely believed that the Egyptian authorities are responsible for Regeni’s death but to date no one has been brought to justice for his murder.
A petition calling for Zaki’s release has been launched on Change.org.
Human rights situation in Egypt
There has been a targeted crackdown on dissent under President el-Sisi’s government.
Following protests in September 2019, the authorities arrested over 3,000 peaceful protesters, including 111 minors. They also targeted high profile critics of the government through the arbitrary arrests of human rights lawyers, journalists, political activists and politicians. These included human rights defender and lawyer Mahienour El-Masry, journalist and former head of liberal Dostour party, Khaled Dawoud, human rights lawyer and director of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms Mohamed el-Baqer and political science professors Hassan Nefea and Hazem Hosny.
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