Jan 23 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman on the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on the 7th anniversary of the January 25th revolution in Egypt, and the crackdown on human rights and democracy under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi:
“Seven years ago this week, the Egyptian people inspired the world with their nonviolent revolution that famously called for bread, freedom, and social equality. The movement encouraged all those who seek democracy and freedom.
“Yet over the past few years, we have witnessed Egypt lurch dangerously backwards. President Sisi’s unprecedented crackdown on political activism and fundamental human rights has led to the imprisonment of tens of thousands of dissidents, including 19 American citizens and nearly 3,500 young people. Egyptian and nongovernmental organization workers – including individuals from the International Republican Institute, which I chair – have been prosecuted and harshly sentenced for peacefully working on behalf of democratic reform. At the same time, credible reports from international human rights organizations describe inhumane conditions in Egyptian prisons, where abuse and torture are rampant. Government censorship of the media and a draconian law governing NGOs have suffocated the country’s once promising civil society. And in the last month alone, the Government of Egypt has executed more than 20 prisoners sentenced to death in sham trials that lacked basic norms of due process. Hundreds more are on death row. Such grave human rights abuses have fueled radicalization in the past, and I fear they will do so again.
“The 2018 presidential elections offer an important opportunity for the Government of Egypt to include citizens in the political process and reopen the public sphere for real discussion and debate. All candidates for public office should have equal opportunity, including access to media and public space for campaigning. Instead, a growing number of presidential candidates have been arrested and forced to withdraw, citing a repressive climate and fear of further retribution. Without genuine competition, it is difficult to see how these elections could be free or fair.
“It is critical that the Government of Egypt embrace the spirit of the January 25th revolution and respect the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people. I strongly urge President Sisi and his government to fulfill their commitment to genuine political reform and respect for human rights. The only way to achieve lasting peace and security in Egypt is to create accountable, democratic institutions that give all Egyptian citizens a stake in the future of their nation.”