The number of executions in Egypt surge to an unprecedented level as do the allegations of unfair trials and confessions extracted through torture.
Egypt has executed the death sentences of nine people who were accused of taking part in the assassination of country’s chief public prosecutor, Hisham Barakat in 2015. Another three were hanged last week because of their role in the killing of police officer Nabil Farag in 2013.
In both cases, the convicted were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest civil society movement in Egypt, which was designated a terrorist organisation in Egypt after the July 3 military coup in 2013.
Amnesty International and many civil rights groups have said that the men were forced to confess their accused role in those events under heavy torture and called for a suspension of the executions.
Even the daughter of the late prosecutor, Marwa Barakat said that those nine people are not the real killers of her father and they should not be held responsible. She further stated that it would be a great mistake to punish these men. Social media was filled with videos and comments in support of the men who were widely believed to be innocent.
The Muslim Brotherhood movement also issued a statement stating that the Egyptian regime holds the responsibility for these unjust death sentences. The movement stated that they denounce violence and have never conducted any attacks against the regime forces.
The Egyptian government, however, claims the opposite. Cairo accused the Muslim Brotherhood of the assassination of Hisham Barakat, despite the movement's strong condemnation of the attack. In the following days, Egyptian security forces conducted operations and arrested some Muslim Brotherhood members, including those who were recently executed.
On February 20, Amnesty International issued a strongly worded condemnation of the Egyptian regime stating that the “execution of nine men after an unfair trial is a monumental disgrace.”
Amnesty International’s North Africa Campaigns Director Najia Bounaim said that “the Egyptian authorities must urgently halt this bloody execution spree which has seen them repeatedly putting people to death after grossly unfair trials in recent weeks.”
Despite international outrage, the Egyptian regime went ahead with the executions, and it is feared that it may continue to do so. Rights movements are concerned that more innocent Egyptians, many of them members of the Muslim Brotherhood, will be subject to execution of their death penalties.
The executions caused an uproar among many Egyptians as well as international observers, however, Western governments remained silent. While the governments of the US, Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom did not make any statements about the executions, media outlets were careful in their wording as they focused mainly on Egypt's 'fight against terrorism' rather than the unjust sentences.
What is more disturbing is that Egypt will be hosting European leaders in a summit between EU and Arab countries in Sharm el Sheikh on February 24-25.
European Union states have been very careful not to damage their relations with the Egyptian regime to protect their interests in the region. For this reason, they aim to maintain close relations with Egypt.
The summit is meant to serve to advance this relationship as it is jointly organised by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el Sisi and President of the European Council Donald Tusk. As none of the European leaders made any condemnation of the executions or cancelled their participation in the summit, Sisi's regime feels no pressure to reconsider its approach to death sentences in the country.
The execution in Egypt also sparked widespread public outrage in Turkey. While politicians and leading public figures have condemned Egypt’s policy, thousands of social media users shared solidarity messages with Egyptians who suffer from the brutal regime in the country.
The injustices of the Egyptian government is widely condemned by public opinion in Turkey, regardless of political affiliations. This stance started with the July 3 military coup in 2013 and has not changed since.
With a minor exception, Turkish political and civil forces condemned the military coup in Egypt and the events that took place in the aftermath. The main reason for this is the fact that as a nation that has suffered a number of military coups and coup attempts, Turkish people are aware of the damage that military dictatorships can do.
Turkish leadership has been relentlessly critical of the Egyptian administration. Believing that Egypt deserves to be a democratic and prosperous country with a strong influence in its region, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered sincere and constructive criticism to the Sisi regime. However, Cairo has so far discarded Turkey’s calls for a democratic path.
The Egyptian regime has executed 15 men in the last three weeks alone.
To overcome existing problems, the Egyptian regime has to find a way to reach a compromise with powerful social groups in the country to build a new social contract. Additionally, Cairo has to accept there is a very large community of Egyptians that do not approve the continuation of the current leadership.
In order not to further damage the social cohesion among Egyptian society, the executions must stop. If Sisi's regime insists on its current policy, the divide between political leadership and society will deepen, eventually causing much bigger problems at the macro level.
For this reason, it is essential that the Egyptian regime revise its policies towards political detainees, especially the ones sentenced to death.
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