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Human Rights Council Should Take Action on Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and India

Item 4 General Debate – Oral Intervention

Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, Egyptians continue to face some of the worst human rights abuses in decades. The government’s zero-tolerance policy to peaceful dissent means that civil society organizations are under continuous attack, media is tightly controlled, and peaceful assembly is equated with terrorism and vandalism. In September and October alone, authorities arrested or prosecuted over 4,000 people rounded up in protests or based on abusive, random mobile phone checks in the streets. The campaign against rights activists escalated to include enforced disappearances, torture and physical assault. The Council should take long-overdue collective action to address the human rights crisis in Egypt.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights has filed a petition in the Indian Supreme Court after the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government adopted the Citizenship Amendment Act, which for the first time in India makes religion the basis for granting citizenship. The act, coupled with a planned a nationwide citizenship verification process to identify “illegal migrants,” has led to fears that many Indian Muslims will be stripped of their citizenship rights. Hundreds of thousands of Indians have protested peacefully. However, over 80 people have been killed, many of them Muslims targeted by Hindu mobs. The police is accused of failing in their duties and of bias against Muslims and other anti-government protesters. Authorities have cracked down on peaceful critics of the government, but did not intervene against BJP members and supporters who incite violence. Kashmiris continue to face restrictions on internet access while several political leaders remain arbitrarily detained.

Saudi Arabia undertook important women’s rights reforms in 2019, but authorities have maintained a sweeping repression campaign against Saudi dissidents and human rights activists. The most recent arrests of a group of writers and activists occurred in November, and five prominent women’s rights advocates remain in detention while facing unfair trials on charges tied to their peaceful advocacy. High-level Saudi officials have faced no meaningful scrutiny or accountability for their suspected roles in the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi or allegations of torture by recent detainees.

We call on the Council to urgently take action to address these serious human rights situations.

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