How to support Egyptian activists in the preparation of COP27
In Egypt one does not have the luxury to be a climate activist, to be a specialised activist in certain topics. For Egyptian activists, the COP is an opportunity to make clear what is happening in their country. The goverment is buying ever more weapons in the west. Security is becoming more and more militarised. It is not even possible for activists to take position on what to do concerning COP27. Activists are afraid to be in the forefront because the regime does not compromise.
There will no real opposition possible in Sharm al Sheik, nor from national environmentalists neither from international activists. There is no real opposition allowed in Egypt. Demonstrations on the climate will not be allowed on the streets. There is a specific building for international activists where they can have their demonstrations inside. This is not even for real activism. Since the goverment changed the civil society law in 2015 the state itself is organising governemental non-gouvernemental organisations. These are presented by the Sisi regime as official NGO partners for the EU Commission and member states. Most real opposition people are in exile or in detention.
International NGO’s put pressure on the Egypt government to give them outside space to protest. Even if this will be allowed, these spaces will be dominated by pro-regime groups. The one alternative activity from the MENA region will be outside Egypt, in the youth climate camp in september in Tunesia. https://www.climatejusticecamp.com/
The COP27 coalition, still in infancy, is struggling with the difficult discussion about human rights in Egypt, how to participate with real opposition and not endangering anyone. For participating groups in Egypt it is of course very difficult to participate openly in these debates. For Egyptian and Arab groups, taking an opposition stand in Sharm Al-Sheik will be difficult. Even for non-Arabs it will not be easy.
If organisations from outside have no other choise than organising something without Egyptian activists, what they should certainly do is mention this: mention the fact that Egyptian climate and environmetal activists are not free to speak, not free to organise. Acknoledge the importance of civil society organisation in climate activism and the problematic sitiuation in autoritarian countries.
Groups that go to Egypt should demand to free political prisoners, there are thousends of them. One or two public figures are mentioned in campaigns but that there are so many should be made public. The regime claims to have a different standard that the west and the western media think there are different ways needed to deal with Muslim Brotherhood. This is not true. There is no difference in democratic needs for the west or muslim countries, we should all be free to speak and organise. We should continue to raise the pressure also from outside the country to free more political prisoners and abolish repressive laws. The challenge is to unite the activists. We had human rights activists and migration activists interested in Egypt, now we have also climate activists. How can we unite the effords to increase the impact?
One of the issues of the Climate Action Network for this COP is loss and damage and climate financing. Here is an oppotunity for us to make the case of moving the money from militarism into climate action.
We should also pay attention to the many refugees from Lybia bordering Egypt that drown in the Mediteranian due to military intervention in Lybia and militarised EU borders.
It is good that there is a COP in Africa and not many African countries could host such a mega event. That it is in an authoritarian country gives us the opportunity to stress how important people’s involvement in climate politics – in any kind of politics – is to make a real impact. Hamza and Kashev will stay in touch with the Military and Climate Justice working group.
More background and action on Egypt hosting COP27
Against climate change, against dictatorship: a message from Cairo https://egyptsolidarityinitiative.org/cop27message/
Egypt: Statements on COP27 Imply Restricting Activism Uphold Rights to Free Expression at Environmental Summit – Egyptian Human Rights Forum” https://www.egyptianforum.org/en/egypt-statements-on-cop27-imply-restricting-activism-uphold-rights-to-free-expression-at-environmental-summit/
UN urged to move Cop27 from Egypt over ‘LGBTQ+ torture’ https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jul/15/un-cop27-egypt-lgbtq-climate-crisis
Civil society letter ttps://ishr.ch/latest-updates/egypt-statements-on-cop27-imply-restricting-activism/
Egypt: COP27 should not overshadow human rights crisis in the country – Amnesty International https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde12/5638/2022/en/
“Egypt: Statements on COP27 imply restricting activism – Amnesty International” https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/07/egypt-statements-on-cop27-imply-restricting-activism/
EFHR urges German Bundestag members to Support for the Immediate Release of the Egyptian Environmental Activist and Expert, Dr. Ahmed Al-Kholy – Egyptian Front for Human Rights https://egyptianfront.org/2022/07/efhr-urges-german-bundestag-members-to-support-for-the-immediate-release-of-the-egyptian-environmental-activist-and-expert-dr-ahmed-al-kholy/
21 CSOs urge German Ministers to raise human rights and release of prisoners with Egypt’s Sisi ahead of COP27 – Egyptian Human Rights Forum. https://www.egyptianforum.org/en/21-csos-urge-german-ministers-to-raise-human-rights-and-release-of-prisoners-with-egypts-sisi-ahead-of-cop27/