Egypt: Repression made in France
A new report published on July 2nd by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Human Rights League (LDH), and Armaments Observatory (OBSARM) exposes the complicity of France and several French companies in the unprecedentedly brutal repression inflicted upon Egyptians over the past five years. France’s government and private sector has supplied the Egyptian security and law enforcement agencies with military and surveillance equipment that is exploited to eradicate all forms of dissent and citizen action. The abovementioned organisations call for a parliamentary inquiry and an immediate end to the export of arms and surveillance technology to the Egyptian government.
Egypt continues to be in the throes of a relentless crackdown. There have been 60,000 political prisoners since 2013 and thousands of extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances (2,811 cases of enforced disappearance from July 2013 - June 2016). The Egyptian authorities systematically use torture alongside the increasing issuance of death sentences after fundamentally flawed and unfair trials. Demonstrations are brutally suppressed, with over 1,000 killed in the August 2013 dispersal of Rabaa Al Adawiya alone. Although technology was harnessed to further freedoms during the Egyptian revolution, it is now primarily used to suppress freedoms, as emphasized by Bahey eldin Hassan, Director of CIHRS:
“While the Egyptian revolution of 2011 was driven by an ultra-connected ‘Facebook generation’ that knew how to mobilise crowds, today France is helping to crush this generation through the establishment of an Orwellian surveillance and control system aimed at nipping in the bud any expression of protest.”
At least eight French companies have profited from this repression to reap record profits despite the declaration by the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on August 21, 2013 “to suspend export licenses to Egypt for any equipment that could be used for domestic repression.” Between 2011 and 2016, French arms exports to Egypt increased from EUR 39.6 million to EUR 1.3 billion. Dimitris Christopoulos, President of FIDH, noted that “while the European Council announced a halt in exports of military and surveillance equipment in order to condemn the drift toward dictatorship in Egypt, France gained market share and achieved record exports.”
Several French companies have sold conventional weapons to an army responsible for the death of hundreds of civilians in the name of the war against terrorism. This weaponry includes warships, frigates, and gunboats; as well as fighter planes, missiles, armored vehicles, and cartridge manufacturing machines to police and security agencies. Furthermore, several French companies have sold the following technologies to Egypt’s security apparatus: individual surveillance, mass interception, personal data collection, and crowd control technologies. In doing so, these companies are all complicit in the formation of a vast surveillance apparatus aimed at preventing all dissent and social movement, and leading to the arrest of tens of thousands of political opponents and activists.
Our organisations call for French companies and authorities to immediately suspend these deadly exports. French authorities must not only institute a parliamentary inquiry into the export of arms to Egypt, but they must also undertake a comprehensive review of the French system regulating the export of arms and surveillance equipment contributing to grave human rights violations in Egypt.
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