Egyptian human rights group shuts down, citing government persecution

CAIRO (AP) — One of Egypt’s last independent human rights groups has shut down, the group said in a statement Monday, citing government persecution.

Over the years, the Egyptian government has carried out an extensive crackdown on dissent, which has killed many of the country’s civil society groups and jailed thousands.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information is an Egyptian organization founded in 2004 by a group of lawyers and activists. It documents violations of citizens, journalists and political prisoners in Egypt and the region. It also comes as governments increasingly intimidate and target human rights workers and others.

But executive director Gamal Eid said in a statement that laws that made many of ANHRI’s businesses illegal forced the group to close. The group’s workers were arrested, intimidated and beaten by security forces, he said.

“We remain conscientious lawyers as individual, independent human rights defenders who will work side by side with the few independent human rights organizations, independent human rights defenders and the entire movement for democracy,” he wrote.

A government media official did not respond to a request for comment on the group’s statement.

Many of those imprisoned in recent years are Islamists, but they also include secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that overthrew the country’s longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.

As a lawyer, Eid has represented some of the most prominent secular detainees. A court ordered a freezing of his assets and banned him from travelling since 2016.

Since taking power in 2013, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has overseen the post-uprising crackdown and banned the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. The country, along with Turkey and China, ranks as one of the worst countries in the world for jailing journalists, according to the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists.

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