NEW YORK (March 10, 2021) – On Monday, the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) sent a letter to the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), which is planning to host the 2021 Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships in Cairo, Egypt on June 7-13, 2021. In the letter, HRF President Thor Halvorssen informed Dr. Klaus Schormann, the President of the UIPM, of the human rights crisis in Egypt, and requested that the UIPM move the events to a democratic country.
“Canceling the championships in Egypt will prevent el-Sisi’s regime from whitewashing its crimes, perhaps with your unintentional support,” said HRF President Thor Halvorssen. “Your organization’s influence gives you the opportunity to make a hugely influential condemnation of el-Sisi’s regime, and to greatly enhance the cause of freedom in Egypt,” said Halvorssen.
Egypt is run by a brutal military dictatorship. Since the military coup in 2013, several human rights groups have recorded over 3,000 extrajudicial killings, and over 60,000 arbitrary detentions. Children as young as 12 have been abducted and tortured in Egyptian prisons, while healthcare workers have been arrested for criticizing the government’s response to COVID-19.
The past year has been an especially difficult time for human rights activists in Egypt. At the beginning of May 2020, el-Sisi’s regime approved an expansion of emergency law powers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These new laws have been followed by a crackdown on human rights groups. In November 2020, security forces arrested three senior staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the most prominent human rights organizations still operating in the country, including its executive director.
The UIPM previously selected Minsk, Belarus as the host city of the June championships, but after pressure from Belarusian civil society groups, the UIPM moved the event to Cairo. HRF believes that the precedent set by the UIPM for moving events from countries experiencing a human rights crisis, like Belarus, should apply equally to Egypt.
“Partnering with the brutal dictatorship of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt puts your organization in league with a murderous, repressive regime involved in gross human rights violations, including the jailing and oppression of women,” stated Halvorssen in the letter. “We hope you will consider showing consistency in your support for human rights and peaceful, democratic protests against the authoritarian regime in Egypt, by using this opportunity for good,” concluded Halvorssen.
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies. For interview requests of further comment, please email [email protected].