Hollywood Star Scarlett Johansson Urges Egypt to Release EiPR Members

Prominent American actress urges Egyptian authorities to release activists from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EiPR) in a video posted on the group’s YouTube channel

Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson has called on Egyptian authorities to free the staff members of a leading human rights group whose detention has sparked international criticism.

The American actress urged authorities to release executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights [EiPR] Gasser Abdel-Razek, in a video posted on the group’s YouTube channel.

She also called for the release of the group’s director of criminal justice Karim Ennarah, its office manager Mohammed Basheer and one of its researchers Patrick George Zaki.

“Speaking out loud has become dangerous today in Egypt,” Johansson said. “I want to point out the plight of four people who were unjustly arrested for defending the dignity of people, Jasser, Karim, Muhammad and Patrick, who work for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

“These men spent their lives fighting injustice and now he is imprisoned behind bars. All of them are facing enough false charges to put them in prison for years,” she said.

EiPR’s staff members were arrested in a sweeping crackdown last month and have since been interrogated about their criminal justice activities, including work published in November on the alarming rise in executions.The arrests have been slammed by international rights groups as a “frightening escalation” in the crackdown on civil society in Egypt.

Several European countries, the US and UN have condemned the detention of the EIPR members.

“We call on the Egyptian authorities to commute all death sentences, and to quash convictions and order fair retrials without recourse to the death penalty for Wael Tawadros and anyone else convicted after unfair trials,” said Philip Luther.

“We also urge the international community, including UN human rights bodies, to publicly call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately halt executions, and for members of the UN Human Rights Council to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on the human rights situation in Egypt.”

Rights groups estimate that some 60,000 detainees in Egypt are political prisoners.

These include secular activists, journalists, lawyers, academics and Islamists arrested in a sweeping crackdown on dissent under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Egypt has repeatedly denied accusations of human rights violations.