Despite the Egyptian government’s decision to close the El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, the centre’s co-founder Aida Seif El-Dawla said that it would continue to document the state’s human rights violations.
At a press conference held by the founders of El Nadeem, El-Dawla announced that the next report will be as scheduled, on 28 February, and will address the repression of freedoms that took place in February 2016.
The conference was held at the Press Syndicate in the presence of approximately 150 persons, including lawyers, activists, journalists, families of detainees who had received support at the centre, and representatives from human rights organisations. Foreign correspondents, EU delegation to Egypt, diplomats from British, French, US, and Swiss embassies were also in attendance.
El Nadeem heads Laila Adly, Aida Seif El-Dawla, and Suzan Fayyad will remain at the centre’s headquarters on Wednesday and Thursday to receive the order for closure. Many in attendance at the press conference also confirmed that they would be present at the centre on these two days to signify their solidarity and their condemnation of the state’s decision.
Adly stated that the centre had learned, during a meeting with the Ministry of Health, that there had been coordination between the cabinet and the ministry to close El Nadeem for “political reasons”.
“The reason given for the closure, during our meeting in the ministry Sunday morning, confirmed our suspicions that the state wants to close down the centre due to its reports documenting state violations,” Adly said.
In a statement to Daily News Egypt, Adly revealed that the centre was informed that the state object to reports published by the centre that condemn actions taken by police against the Muslim Brotherhood.
El Nadeem was founded in 1993, and was licensed by the Doctors Syndicate and the Health Ministry. For 22 years, the centre worked to support victims of torture and violence who had suffered psychological and physical trauma, and to document violence and the methods of torture to which Egyptians and non-Egyptians have been subject.
El Nadeem has also documented domestic violence and child abuse cases while providing support and rehabilitation to African immigrants in Egypt as African migrants face high rates of discrimination and abuse. The centre sought to provide these migrants with safe jobs.
The media and documentation director for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Mary Seif, told Daily News Egypt that El Nadeem centre does not have any political affiliation and are simply working against any type of human rights violation.
Tarek Mohamed, a former prisoner, and brother of prominent detainee Mahmoud Mohamed, told Daily News Egypt about his experience: “El Nadeem is a place where I feel safe about myself and my personal information; the centre supported me psychologically after I was released from prison. I and several families and detainees are here today to return the favour.”
Following the conference, Daily News Egypt spoke to lawyers Mokhtar Mounier, Malek Adly, and Mohamed Abdel Aziz who all condemned the closure and expressed their solidarity with the centre.
“The state is closing all sectors working against violations, and is thus suppressing freedoms, and silencing organisations and human rights advocates who publish [the state’s] crimes, to keep up appearances,’’ Mounir said.
Adly claimed that the defence of human rights is the proper continuation of the 25 January Revolution.
‘’I believe that the goals of the revolution won’t be accomplished in just two or three years, it could take decades, but we will achieve them in the end. We will continue our work until we reach our goals,’’ he continued.
Abdel Aziz contended that the state is sending civil society a certain message through the decision to close down the centre, and through other recent violations and restrictions. The message being that whoever complies with the state will be safe, while its opponents will be harmed.
The centre filed a lawsuit Sunday at the administrative court against the Health Ministry, Governor of Cairo Galal Saeed, and chairman of the Health Affairs committee. The heads of the centre sent a notice Saturday calling on the Ministry of Health to retract the decision to close centre, after a request to postpone the closure was refused.
Last Wednesday, the Cairo governorate authorities issued an order to close El Nadeem, stating that the centre had violated the terms of its licence, but provided no further details.