US president Barack Obama should use his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to “publicly criticise Egypt’s continued crackdown on basic freedoms, including those crucial to democracy,” Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.
Obama should “press concerns” on a number of the Egyptian President’s human rights abuses, including widespread jailing of political opponents, mass death sentences, as well as lack of accountability on the security forces’ massacre of over 1,000 protesters in August 2013,the group said.
The two presidents are scheduled to meet on Thursday 25 September during Al-Sisi’s inaugural visit to the United Nations General Assembly.
“President Obama shouldn’t let Al-Sisi’s first visit to the UN look like a return to business as usual,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“Egypt’s authorities have gotten away with crushing dissent by lethal force, and they are betting that invoking terrorism as an excuse will make the US look the other way.”
The Obama administration recently confirmed it has approved the transfer of 10 Apache attack helicopters to support “counter-terrorism” efforts in Egypt.
Human Rights Watch stated its opposition to the decision.
Al-Sisi said he supports the US campaign against extremist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Since the July 2013 military ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian authorities have detained around 41,000 people, according to the online database WikiTharwa.
According to official state figures, the authorities have detained 22,000 people.
“The broad arrest sweep has caught up many people who were peacefully expressing political opposition to Morsi’s overthrow and to the Al-Sisi government,” the Human Rights Watch statement said.
A number of detainees are being held incommunicado in military facilities, and dozens have died of mistreatment or negligence in custody, according to the statement.