For Immediate Release
Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C - 301/906-4460
Mubarak Visit Offers Obama Administration Opportunity to Push Human Rights, Democracy in Egypt
August 18th White House meeting precedes upcoming Egyptian elections
WASHINGTON - Next week's meeting between President Barack Obama and Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak offers the administration a unique opportunity
to promote human rights and democracy in Egypt, according to Human
Rights First. The presidents are scheduled to meet on Tuesday, August
18, at the White House. The trip is Mubarak's first visit to Washington
in six years.
In a letter sent today, Human Rights First called on President Obama
to urge President Mubarak to make measurable progress in the fields of
human rights and democracy in the coming months as Egypt prepares for
parliamentary elections in 2010 and for a presidential election in
2011. Should President Mubarak decide to step down after 30 years in
office, the upcoming presidential election could produce a new
president in Egypt.
"The upcoming elections are a key test of the Egyptian government's
commitment to human rights and democracy," said Neil Hicks,
International Policy Advisor at Human Rights First. "The more credible
the elections, the firmer foundation for Egypt to move forward with an
agenda of improved respect for human rights and the rule of law."
It its letter, Human Rights First urged President Obama to put into
practice the principles he expounded in his June speech in Cairo.
Specifically, the organization encouraged President Obama to seek
guarantees from President Mubarak that there will be credible
independent supervision of the electoral process, that the basic rights
and freedoms of independent civil society representatives who wish to
monitor and comment on the elections should be upheld, and that
opposition candidates should be able to contest the elections free from
harassment and official obstruction. Human Rights First also called on
President Obama to urge President Mubarak to invite reputable
international election monitoring organizations to carry out
evaluations in Egypt.
In addition to requests related to upcoming elections, Human Rights
First urged President Obama to raise the worsening situation of Egypt's
religious minorities, especially the Coptic Christian minority, with
President Mubarak. In its letter, the organization asked President
Obama to push for President Mubarak to pass a law that would lift
restrictions on the ability of Christians to build or expand churches,
and to implement policies that would tackle discrimination and deal
effectively with increasing incidents of sectarian violence.
"Promoting human rights and democracy in Egypt serves the national
interest of the United States by contributing to regional stability and
enhancing the nation's reputation and credibility throughout the Arab
region," concluded Hicks. "President Obama must view next week's
meeting as an opportunity to begin to put into practice the commitments
he made in Cairo."
Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.