Greenpeace “greenwashes” the image of the Egyptian government and forces other activists to lift the country’s abysmal human rights record ahead of Cop27, the UN climate summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharmel. Sheikh next week.
Criticism of global conservation groups has raised concerns about Egypt’s human rights record as human rights activists threaten to limit access to the Earth Summit and divert attention from meeting climate goals. It happens when we warn you not to take lightly. Proponents argue that meaningful climate action can only be achieved if scientists, activists and journalists are free to pressure governments to move away from fossil fuels.
The government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who took office in 2014, is holding an estimated 60,000 political prisoners and has silenced independent environmental and climate change activists. The US State Department lists “serious” human rights problems in the country, including unlawful or arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings by the government, enforced disappearances by state security agents, and torture and life-threatening conditions in Egyptian prisons. did.
Human rights defenders, some of whom spoke to The Guardian on condition of anonymity over concerns for their own safety, said Greenpeace was reluctant to criticize the Sisi government’s human rights abuses ahead of the summit. It is said that it stands out because it is a target.
In one case, activists with first-hand knowledge of the issue said that a demand for the release of all political prisoners put forward by Egyptian human rights activists in the Cop27 coalition was filed by Greenpeace and the Egyptian environmental group, which belonged to the coalition. He said he was opposed.
According to activists, the Green Group’s position called for an international group to intervene in the conflict and act as a mediator. Compromise language was agreed to refer to the perpetrators. Greenpeace eventually withdrew from the coalition, as did several Egyptian groups, including at least one of his, sponsored by Egypt’s Ministry of the Environment.
“My concern is to normalize that environmental groups and international organizations in general should be allowed not to take principled positions, either for their own access or their Undermining rights claims from local groups for profit.I think this is a very dangerous precedent,” said one activist.
Others with first-hand knowledge of the matter said Egyptian environmental groups felt compelled to withdraw from the Cop27 Coalition over concerns that the regime would further restrict their activities. A local environmental activist in Egypt said:
The controversy over the Union is not the only controversy.
In July, a group of environmentalists and activists wrote an open letter stating that Egypt would successfully host an event due to its poor record on human rights, especially as thousands of prisoners of conscience remain imprisoned. Signatories included John Soben, former Executive Director of Greenpeace UK, but Greenpeace UK refused to sign.
“It was Greenpeace who opposed signing the petition for the release of Allah Abd El-Fatah,” said the person, one of Egypt’s most famous activists for his role in the uprising in Egypt. Yes, referring to an imprisoned British Egyptian blogger. In 2011, I spent most of the last ten years in prison. He has also been on hunger strike for about 200 days and recently told his family that he may die in prison.
Mike Townsley of Greenpeace International said: “We are deeply concerned about the dire human rights situation in Egypt and believe that climate justice cannot be achieved without social justice.
He added: It is our duty not only to consider their safety, but also not to increase the risks facing the growing environmental movement in Egypt. Balancing the safety of staff and partners with the need to speak up is not easy. All over the world, human rights and environmental advocates face increasing threats. It is important to find ways to continue to address the growing tide of oppression and destruction, and the broken world system that fuels it. ”
Human rights defender Abd El Fattah’s sister, Sana Seif, is one of Greenpeace’s critics.
“Greenpeace’s position is really disappointing and they should know better. , has much more room and influence to make human rights a priority in the police force. There would have been a lot of pressure to do so,” Sana Seif said.
Last week, Greenpeace UK’s new Executive Directors Areeba Hamid and Will McCallum released a statement calling for Abd El-Fatah’s safe release and return to the UK to be a priority for all UK diplomatic channels. .
“Allah’s life is in serious danger. He has lost hope and is on hunger strike from 2 April 2022.” It is imperative that we use that significant leverage to free prisoners, or we risk implicitly endorsing this pattern.”
The statement was released on Thursday, a day after The Guardian emailed Greenpeace asking for comment on the company’s position on human rights in Egypt. Stated.
In response, Seif welcomed Greenpeace’s decision to highlight his brother’s plight and urged other international organizations participating in Cop27 to call out for human rights violations.
Greenpeace has also not signed a petition by the Human Rights Coalition calling on Egyptian authorities to open up civic space and release political prisoners.
The petition has been signed by nearly 1,000 organizations and individuals, including 350.org, Amnesty International, Greta Thunberg and the Climate Action Network. The world’s largest climate network of over 1,500 civil society organizations is also not signed by Oxfam, among other international groups such as the World Wildlife Fund.