“ISIS” is the offspring of repressive policies and practices as well as the prevailing religious discourse in the Arab World

In League of Arab States by CIHRS

In an open letter to Arab monarchs and presidents on the sidelines of the 26th Arab summit in Sharm Elshiekh ––due to meet on 28th of March 2015–– 21 rights organizations have declared that “the unilateral focus on security and military solutions to terrorist organizations has proven an abject failure regionally and internationally, especially since September 2001.” The letter went on to note that “the birth and rapid expansion of ISIS is the fruit of this failure and this strategy, which ignored the deep political and religious roots of this phenomenon in its contemporary form in the region”. In light of this, the organizations called on Arab monarchs and presidents “to confront this painful fact and to admit it to their peoples and to themselves.” “Today” the letter went on, “there are among the participants of the summit who continue these same policies. They have even convinced themselves, more than their people, that they are the best hope to avoid the fate of Syria and Iraq.” The letter urged Arab monarchs and presidents to “reconsider the policies that have led the Arab world to this catastrophic juncture, unprecedented in the modern age.”

On 19 March, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies sent the letter to the Office of Mr. Nabil Al-araby, the secretary-general of the League of Arab States, requesting that copies be forwarded to all monarchs and presidents.

In their letter, the undersigned rights organizations argued that the regime’s of Iraq and Syria, over the past several decades, have paved the way for the emergence of “ISIS.”. Indeed, in an acknowledgement of the brutal cycle of violence and repression, the organizations noted that “it is difficult to say which is more savage and ruthless, wiping out Kurdish civilians with chemical weapons in northern Iraq and bombing Shia civilian populations in southern Iraq and Sunni civilians in Hama in Syria or beheading prisoners, enslaving minority women, and killing male civilian prisoners.”

The letter was sent as the Arab Summit convenes to decide whether to move forward with the proposal to establish a unified Arab force to confront terrorism, to be financed jointly by the treasuries of participating states. The undersigned organizations have pointed out the irony of the proposed action, noting that “some of these treasuries also finance every day repressive, authoritarian policies, practices, and legislation, which also push growing numbers of citizens—Islamists and secularists—to the brink of despair, extremism, and violence and create a fertile environment for the recruitment of new fighters with terrorist groups, which will be fought by a force now financed by these same treasuries.” The organizations also made clear that “these same treasuries finance an extremist religious discourse by which growing numbers of individuals from inside and outside the Arab region are every day recruited by these same terrorist groups it now proposes to fight.”

Finally, the organizations urged member states to amend the Arab Convention on Combating Terrorism as it “constitutes a grave threat to human rights while also having failed to put an end to terrorist activity in the Arab world.” The letter concluded with a hope that “the resolutions that come out of the Arab summit are up to the challenges facing the peoples in this region.”

A copy of the letter is appended here

Signatory organizations:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies – Egypt
  2. Association Vigilance – Tunisia
  3. Bahrain Youth Society for Human RightsBahrain
  4. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance – Egypt
  5. Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies – Syria
  6. Egyptian Commission for rights and freedoms – Egypt
  7. El-Nadeem Centre for the rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture – Egypt
  8. Hesham Mobarak Law Center – Egypt
  9. Human Rights First – KSA
  10. Human Rights Training and Information Center – Yemen
  11. Libyan Judges Organization – Libya
  12. Libyan Network for Human Rights Defenders – Libya
  13. Libyan Organization for Legal Aid – Libya
  14. Masryoon Against Religious Discrimination – Egypt
  15. Mercy association for the defense of internal displaced persons – Libya
  16. Palestinian Human Rights Organization – Palestine
  17. Sudan Human Rights Monitor – Sudan
  18. The Committee for the Respect of Liberties and Human Rights in Tunis – Tunisia
  19. The Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement – Egypt
  20. The Egyptian Foundation for the Advancement of Childhood Conditions – Egypt
  21. The Human Rights Legal Assistance Group – Egypt
  22. The Moroccan Human Rights Forum – Morocco
  23. The Tunisian Forum for Social and Economic Rights – Tunisia
  24. Tunisian Association for Democratic Women – Tunisia
  25. Tunisian League for Human Rights – Tunisia
  26. Yemen Organization for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms – Yemen

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