Rights organizations reject meeting with deputy PM

Egyptian rights organizations have refused to participate in a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmy to protest what they describe as the suppression exercised by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).  

On Sunday, Selmy invited political powers to a Tuesday meeting to discuss the main principles to be included in the new constitution and criteria for setting up the constituent assembly that will draft it.

The statement was signed by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, and Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.

The organizations said they refuse to participate in the meeting or any other similar meetings until Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and the SCAF “demonstrate respect for the dignity and rights of the Egyptian people.”

The organizations also criticized the continuing referral of civilians to military tribunals, torture and smear campaigns against civil society organizations.

The statement added that the SCAF and the government "have turned their backs on the demands of Egyptians to establish a just state and launched systematic campaigns against political powers that defend democracy."

The statement added that some military bodies have committed violations worse than those committed under Mubarak's dictatorship, such as subjecting women to virginity tests.

Despite promises by the SCAF to start investigations into the alleged violations, the statement said no results have so far been announced, assuming no probe was started at all.

Gamal Eid, the head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, meanwhile, told reporters that the SCAF gives orders to the government to start some dialogue and then makes decisions that run contrary to the conclusions reached in those dialogues.

"We will not take part in this trickery out of respect for the people we represent," he added.

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