Thunberg calls on Egypt to release political prisoners amid climate summit

Climate activist Greta Thunberg criticized the Egyptian government’s human rights record on the third day of the COP27 United Nations climate summit hosted by Egypt, calling for the release of British-Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah.

“During COP27, we urge the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained simply for the peaceful exercise of their human rights, applying criteria set by local NGOs for these releases: justice, transparency, inclusiveness and urgency need,” Thunberg said. he tweeted on Tuesday. “A system that fails to meet the needs for climate justice and safeguarding human rights is a system that has failed everyone – we need to keep both in mind.”

Thunberg specifically pointed to the case of El-Fattah, a software developer and activist who was arrested in 2019 and sentenced to five years in prison on charges of promoting “fake news that undermines national security.” His imprisonment has been widely condemned by international human rights organizations and he has spent nearly seven months on hunger strike.

Activists and human rights organizations have accused the nation of using its COP27 presidency as a means to launder its human rights. Earlier this week, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) led a letter urging President Biden to engage Egyptian officials on the issue during the conference.

“We are … deeply troubled by the message to the world that the Egyptian government is hosting COP27 while imprisoning tens of thousands of political prisoners – including many environmental activists,” they wrote. Just last week, security forces arrested Indian climate activist Ajit Rajagopal mid-way from Cairo to Sharm-el-Sheikh, the Red Sea resort hosting the summit.

Thunberg was linked to a petition by 12 Egyptian human rights organizations calling for the immediate release of political prisoners.

“Addressing environmental crises cannot be used to wash away the reputation of one of the world’s worst human rights abusers,” Yasmin Omar, director of UN and regional mechanisms at the Justice Committee, said in a statement. “The world’s solidarity in our demands created a unique impetus to focus human rights in vital discussions during COP27 and to call on Egypt to take concrete steps to release rights prisoners and open political space ».

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