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Human Rights Watch's Alison Des Forges Award celebrates the valor of individuals who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others. Human Rights Watch collaborates with these courageous activists to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.

Hossam Bahgat, founder and director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), is a leading defender of civil rights and liberties in Egypt. An outspoken critic of the Mubarak government’s violations of basic rights, including abuses committed by Egypt’s powerful security apparatus under the country’s 29-year state of emergency, he played a prominent role as revolution swept Egypt in January and February 2011.

From the beginning of the Tahrir uprising, Bahgat and EIPR documented violence against protesters and prisoners and led a campaign against military trials of civilian protesters. When President Mubarak was forced out, Bahgat stepped up his efforts, seeking new laws and lasting institutional change to build a more rights-respecting Egypt.  

Bahgat has also courageously defended the right to privacy and he is a champion of religious freedom, working to expose the government’s failure to prosecute sectarian violence against Coptic Christians.

Human Rights Watch honors Hossam Bahgat for upholding the personal freedoms of all Egyptians.

Interview with human rights defender Hossam Bahgat from Cairo

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