Published On: Mon, Nov 7th, 2022

Egypt human rights record under fire as it hosts climate conference

Ahead of COP27, Ahmad Abdullah, the co-founder of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, a Cairo-based nongovernmental organization, said research conducted by his organization’s data team showed at least 174 Egyptians had been arbitrarily arrested.

NBC News could not independently verify this number.

Abdullah added that Egyptian police had increased random stop and searches and had been inspecting the phones and social media activity of people on the streets of major cities.

That has led to the “greenwashing” accusations.

“They have two main objectives,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa researcher Hussein Baoumi.

“The first is pushing their climate agenda, which I would say includes environmental damage and reparations. But on the other hand, they want to greenwash their image and show to the world that they’re not responsible for human rights abuses,” he added.

NBC News emailed the Egyptian Ministry of Environment for comment.

The accusations are echoed by Hossam Bahgat, the executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a Cairo-based human rights organization.

“My organization has been working in the field of environmental justice for 10 years now,” Bahgat said Saturday.

“And like most other environmental groups, we have had to stop working with communities, to stop doing any organizing on the ground. Not just because it became too dangerous for our staff and members, but [because it became] even more dangerous for the members of the communities themselves,” he said.

Bahgat said that on account of his activism, the Egyptian government has had him under a travel ban for the past seven years and frozen his bank account and assets since 2016.

NBC News has emailed the Egyptian Ministry of Environment for comment.

Linking climate protests to human rights, Abdullah, of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, said, “Without freedom of assembly and association, you cannot achieve climate justice. So human rights should be at the center of climate justice, especially in a country like Egypt.

“So, whether you’re an environmental group or a human rights group, you are not allowed to speak up freely for the issues you’re campaigning for,” he said.

Associated Press contributed.

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