Anti-coup activists ask US to oppose Egyptian regime

WASHINGTON D.C. - A group of anti-coup Egyptian delegates visited Washington D.C. and asked the American administration to make its voice louder in condemning human rights violations in Egypt after a military regime took over the country in 2013.

The group was comprised of activists from different “Egyptian political colors who are opposed to the coup.”

They visited the State Department, think tanks and Congress in order to “create awareness of the human rights violations and the oppressive regime in Egypt” that have taken place after the current military government, led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, ousted Egypt's first-ever democratically elected leader, Mohammad Morsi.

"The American administration has to make its voice much louder in condemning violations of human rights. It needs to ensure that its aid is conditional and connected to what is happening in Egypt on the ground, " Dr. Maha Azzam said, responding to questions from The Anadolu Agency regarding her visit to the U.S. capital.

The delegation included Dr. Maha Azzam (Head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council), Dr. Sarwat Nafei (Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament in Exile), Dr. Mohamed Heshmat (Deputy of the Egyptian Parliament in Exile), Dr. Abdul-Mawgoud Dardery (Foreign Relations Committee Chair of 2012 Egyptian Parliament) and Judge Walid Sharabi (Secretary General of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council).

“We are all committed to peaceful protest and the continuation of peaceful protest inside Egypt as well as the expression of what is happening in Egypt to all people outside the country who are concerned with democracy,” Azzam said.

On Aug. 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces raided al-Nahda Square and Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, the focal points of anti-coup protests. 

According to Human Rights Watch, over 1,000 people were killed and thousands injured by security forces during the clearing of the peaceful protest sites. Tens of thousands of people were subsequently  jailed.

Human Rights Watch reported that "security forces used lethal force indiscriminately, with snipers and gunmen... firing their weaponry on large crowds of protestors."

Following the military coup in Egypt, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members were taken into custody on charges of incitement to violence that occurred during the protests.

While Egyptian authorities accuse the Brotherhood of masterminding terrorist attacks following Morsi's ouster, the Islamist movement says that it is committed to peaceful activism.

Egyptian authorities have also disbanded the Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, and frozen its assets. It has also frozen the assets of nearly 342 Brotherhood-affiliated companies, 1,107 NGOs and 174 schools.

Many of the group's leaders have since been sentenced to death or life sentences, including Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie.

Many Western countries, including the United States, did not consider the Egyptian army’s overthrowing of Egypt's first democratically-elected president a "coup." Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also backed Sisi's government with a $20 billion financial aid package. 

Azzam said their visit aimed to show the other side of the coin. “We wanted to ensure that the other side of the story is heard, that of the suffering of the Egyptian people on the ground and of our commitment to continue our struggle for democracy and greater respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Azzam said.

Dardery argued that, with the current regime in Egypt, stability in the country is impossible.

“There is no stability without political freedom. There is no stability without protecting human rights. There is no stability without freedoms: freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and freedom of organization,” Dardery said.

Azzam called on U.S. authorities not to normalize their relations with the Egyptian "dictatorship," adding that, "ultimately it ought to be stepping back and supporting those who are calling for democracy in a much clearer way."

Despite the jail sentences against them, Dardery argued that, "We've learned a lot from the mistakes we made, and now we are demanding real change in all institutions. We will reform the police, we will reform the army, and we will reform all the judiciary because the judiciary betrayed the Egyptian people by sentencing hundreds of Egyptians to death because of participating in peaceful demonstrations, by firing students from university because of marching against the coup"

"The Ikhwan are in fact is socio-political movement. The Muslim Brotherhood, since the time it started, presented a socio-political alternative to Egyptian society," said Dardery, who argued that the Ikhwan, the Arabic shorthand for the Muslim Brotherhood, will be back on the political stage stronger than before.

Dardery extended his thanks to the Turkish government for supporting the Egyptian people's struggle for a democratic country, saying, "We will make Egyptians study the Turkish model as a possible model. I'm really thankful to the Turkish people and their democracy and Turkish government as well."

"Ultimately through support for democracy and rejection of military coups the whole region can move forward and that’s why Egypt is so important. Success of democracy in Egypt will be an example to the region and will also be the basis of stability and prosperity for the region," Azzam added.

The activists will also visit Chicago, Florida, and then Seattle to meet Egyptian communities as well as different academics and think tanks. 

The group will give a conference at Berkeley University and is expected to end its visit to the United States by Feb. 8.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency