[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] has urged the US against resuming military assistance to Egypt until the country begins to make progress on developing basic freedoms or on its democratic transition. On Friday the group released a letter [text] it sent to Secretary of State John Kerry [official website] earlier this week, shortly after the secretary made comments on potentially resuming military aid in the coming weeks. In the letter, the group stated its reasoning:
We share your hope that Egypt will embark on a democratic transition, but the government continues routinely to violate the rights of its citizens to free expression, association, and peaceful assembly – all essential components of a democratic transition… Resuming assistance without concrete reforms putting an end to these violations would inevitably link the United States to ongoing repression by the military-backed government.
The US cut its support to Cairo in October by stopping deliveries of military equipment, as well as withholding $260 million in cash aid. The country’s military backed government has killed over 1,000 protesters and imprisoned over 16,000 people since assuming power in July, most of which resulted from peaceful exercises of rights of free speech, association, and peaceful assembly.
Egypt has been in constant political unrest since the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder] occurred in 2011. Last month 27 UN member states released a joint statement [JURIST report] expressing great concern about the escalating violence in Egypt. Also last month an Egyptian court ruled [JURIST report] that the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas was a terrorist organization and banned all activities by the group within the country. In February the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute released a report urging [JURIST report] the Egyptian government to promote the independence of the judiciary and to end selective prosecution. Also in February the Cairo Criminal Court convicted 26 people [JURIST report] of forming a terrorist group with the intent to attack the Suez Canal.