The UK sells guns to a despotic regime, just as it gags one of its own lawyers

arms trade
Support us and go ad-free

The UK is currently busy engaging with Egypt’s despotic regime at an arms fair in London. And this is just as news comes out that officials have arrested a lawyer who has been investigating cases of ‘disappeared’ activists.

The class of regime Britain is selling arms to

Officials from Egypt are attending the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair, which is happening between 12 and 15 September. But now, news has emerged about Egypt’s arrest of lawyer Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy on 10 September at Cairo International Airport. On Tuesday 12 September, he was charged with “managing an illegal group, spreading false news… [and] cooperating with foreign organisations”.

Hegazy’s arrest came just before a journey to Geneva, where he was due to talk about cases of ‘disappeared’ people, including Italian Giulio Regeni. Regeni was a University of Cambridge PhD student investigating trade unions in Egypt when he was murdered there in 2016. Officials deny his death in custody but admit they were monitoring him.

Hegazy was also investigating the 2013 disappearance of his own son, Amr. And these are only two of 1,300 cases that the Association of the Families of the Disappeared (a group which Hegazy co-founded) has recorded.

International pressure

Speaking about Hegazy, Regeni’s lawyer Mohamed Lofty told The Guardian:

Ibrahim coordinates with families of those disappeared, defends them and attends investigations.

He’s an important source of information, not just for campaigns but also when we advise the Regeni family. He provides case examples.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Lofty also suggested that waning international pressure is enabling the Egyptian regime to do as it pleases:

I think the government feels it has got away with the Regeni investigation and now they have some breathing room after months of being under pressure.

Italy asked other European governments to put pressure on Egypt over Regeni’s death in 2016. Britain reportedly called for “a full and transparent investigation”. But human rights group Amnesty International has criticised the UK for not keeping to its obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty. It said:

many States Parties including France, the UK and Italy have supplied Egypt with a range of conventional weapons that could be used for internal repression including light arms and ammunition, despite the Egyptian government’s violent crackdown on dissent which has resulted in thousands of protesters being killed, tortured and injured.

Unchecked repression

Egypt has been under the rule of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who overthrew democratically elected Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in a military coup. Reports say that there has been unchecked violence in the country ever since, in a campaign against political dissidents.

Now, al-Sisi has reportedly passed a law saying that NGOs cannot conduct activities that “harm national security, public order, public morality or public health”. Human Rights Watch says the law will ‘cripple’ civil society.

The UK and other Western governments, meanwhile, have ample leverage over Egypt. And they could put significant pressure on al-Sisi’s regime. But instead, they’re arming a despot who’s gagging lawyers that dare to speak out.

That’s completely unacceptable.

Get Involved!

– Read The Canary Global‘s previous coverage on Egypt. And follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more independent international coverage.

– Join the week of action against DSEI organised by Stop the Arms Fair.

– Support CAAT and find out more about the arms trade.

– Join The Canary if you appreciate the work we do.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed