Ottawa

Ottawa group marks Egypt's military coup that left human rights 'under siege'

An Ottawa group plans to gather in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Sandy Hill to highlight human rights abuses in the country on the third anniversary of the military coup.

'Human rights are under siege in Egypt. Freedom of expression is being infringed and violated'

Armed forces ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, in 2013. (CBC)

An Ottawa group plans to gather in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Sandy Hill to highlight human rights abuses in the country on the third anniversary of the military coup.

In 2013, Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown by the country's military. 

"The country has been ruled with an iron fist under the dictatorship of the military and the best and brightest in Egypt right now are behind bars. University professors, scientists, thinkers, philosophers, members of the press ... are all behind bars," said Ehab El-Komy with the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy.

El-Komy said there was great hope and optimism in the country after the 2011 revolution but that quickly faded once the elected leader of the country was ousted. "Human rights organizations have documented thousands of cases of abuse, torture and killing, including the killing and torture of non-Egyptians," said El-Komy.

Ehab El-Komy in front of the Egyptian embassy in Ottawa. Holding up four fingers has come to symbolize the sit-in at the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where hundreds were killed when security forces violently dispersed a sit-in by Mohammed Morsi's supporters.

According to Amnesty International, since the coup, courts in Egypt have handed down hundreds of death sentences and lengthy prison terms to people without the opportunity of a fair trial.

"Human rights are under siege in Egypt. Freedom of expression is being infringed and violated by the state security forces at every turn imaginable. Protests are being broken up with lethal force. There's mass arrests. Journalists are being thrown in prison simply for reporting the news," said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada.

Neve said the Sunday afternoon gathering in front of the embassy is a way to bring attention to the ongoing situation in Egypt and to call on countries, like to Canada, to act. 

"We need to hear from Canada more widely, regularly expressing concern about this worsening human rights situation in Egypt, and that should be a combination of public statements made from time to time and certainly concerted action behind the scenes," he said.

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