Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green and Bow) (Lab)
I rise to speak in support of Karim Ennarah, the husband of my constituent Jessica Kelly. I also want to highlight the widespread human rights abuses under the current Egyptian regime.
Karim Ennarah works for a human rights organisation, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. He holds a master’s degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London and was a Chevening scholar. He has lots of UK connections as well as family connections.
Karim Ennarah was arrested on Wednesday 18 November by Egyptian security services at a beach café while he was on a break in Dahab on the Sinai peninsula. His colleague, Mohammed Basheer, was also arrested, on 15 November, and the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Gasser Abdel-Razek, was arrested in Cairo on 19 November. This follows an arrest earlier in the year of another of their colleagues.
The three arrests happened following a meeting with EIPR that was initiated by diplomats from Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, as well as the chargés d’affaires of Canada, Norway and Sweden and the deputy ambassador of the United Kingdom. At that meeting, the diplomats and the EIPR discussed the human rights situation in Egypt.
The arrests of Karim Ennarah and his colleagues were a co-ordinated crackdown on those campaigning for human rights issues. The United Nations human rights agency called the arrests “chilling”. Karim was held without trial in the notorious Tora prison. That is a complex known for the torture of political prisoners, where the cells are designed never to see sunlight. Those who have experienced it tell of cells without beds, the denial of medical attention, floors crawling with insects, and temperatures soaring to unbearable highs before crashing to freezing cold. Political prisoners are routinely starved, beaten and abused.
On 4 December, after a global outcry and pressure on the Egyptian regime, the three were released from prison, but they remain in Egypt under close surveillance and their assets have been frozen by order of the courts. We are yet to hear whether they are being held under any other conditions, as the investigation continues to hang over them. Karim’s wife, Jessica Kelly, with support from campaigners, human rights organisations and nearly 150,000 people who signed a petition, alongside a number of celebrities, has led the global efforts to secure his release and that of his colleagues. She deserves our praise and admiration for her incredible fortitude in such trying circumstances.