(Berlin) – Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany should tell visiting Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that closer ties between Germany and Egypt require addressing pervasive human rights violations by his government, Human Rights Watch and four other international rights organizations said in a June 1, 2015 letter to the chancellor. President al-Sisi is scheduled to confer with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin on June 3.
The joint letter was from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Front Line Defenders, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). The organizations said that Germany should continue to freeze transfers of arms and security-related items that can be used for repression until Egypt investigates and brings to justice the security forces responsible for unlawful killings of hundreds of protesters. This should include security forces involved in the killing of more than 1,000 protesters in a single day while closing down two protest sites in Cairo in August 2014.
“German authorities are well aware of the terrible human rights situation in Egypt today,” said Wenzel Michalski, Germany director at Human Rights Watch. “Chancellor Merkel should speak out against Egyptian government policies like shutting down peaceful protests and mass arrests solely for alleged sympathy with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The organizations called attention to a pair of May 16, 2015 court rulings that recommended the death penalty for 122 people, including former President Mohamed Morsy, the noted academic Emad Shahin, and many other Muslim Brotherhood officials. These rulings followed others that, according to the Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedoms, convicted 2,381 political dissidents during the first three months of the year. The rulings sentenced 194 people to death and 312 to life in prison. Amnesty International found that Egyptian courts have issued more than 742 death sentences since al-Sisi engineered Morsy’s ouster in July 2013 after unfair trials, some before military courts.
Egypt should release those sentenced in mass trials or jailed solely for alleged membership in, or sympathy with, the Muslim Brotherhood, or retry them before civilian courts under international fair trial standards, the groups said.