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Canadian Student Unions stand behind Egyptian Students in their Struggle for Human Rights

    January 25, 2015

    Joint Press Release by Amnesty International Canada and the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy
    25 January 2015

    Several student unions in Canadian universities across Canada have adopted a statement of solidarity “with Egyptian students' right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly”, and to a “campus environment that is free from fear, intimidation and police abuse.”

    The statement, signed by Ryerson Students’ Union, University of Regina Students’ Union, University of Victoria Students’ Society, University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union Executive Committee, Carleton University Graduate Students' Association, and Post Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University, called on the Canadian Government, civil society and human rights groups to exert all possible pressure on the Egyptian authorities to “drop all charges and immediately and unconditionally release all students arrested solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly.” The statement was co-drafted by Amnesty International Canada and the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy (ECCD).

    “We support Egyptian Students and their right to attend post-secondary education without fear or intimidation,” said Devon Peters, President of University of Regina Students’ Union. According to Amnesty International reports, this academic year witnessed at least 90 students injured and some 200 arrested, and at least one student was killed during police force raids on university campuses in Egypt. “Universities are places where values such as freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas should be held in the highest regard,” said Greg Atkinson, Director of External Relations of University of Victoria Students' Society. “We stand behind the students in Egypt who are being denied these fundamental rights,” he added.

    The statement also demanded to “bring those responsible for arbitrary or abusive force” to justice. “The lack of accountability for such violations by Egyptian security forces against demonstrations, including unlawful killings, gives them the green light to carry on brutalizing student protesters,” said Hilary Homes, Amnesty International Canada MENA Campaigner.

    Other student clubs representing community groups, human rights or political groups from other universities in Canada also signed the statement. “There are far too many governments repressing their citizens in the world today,” said Tyler Lively, Canadian Regional Director of Students for Liberty, a worldwide libertarian student organization, which signed the statement.

    “We as Canadians should seek the possible measures to put an end to the ongoing violations against students in Egyptian universities,” said Ehab Lotayef, ECCD Board Chair. “The attitude of the Canadian and other western governments is giving a green light to the military regime in Egypt to continue arresting, killing, and torturing students and citizens in general,” he added.

    For the full text of the statement, and the full list of signatories, please visit:

    Canadian and Quebec Students stand behind Egyptian Students in their struggle for Human Rights
    Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy

    About Amnesty International: Amnesty International is a global movement of over 7 million people in more than 150 countries working together to protect and promote human rights.

    About ECCD: Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy (ECCD) is a politically independent, non-affiliated pan-Canadian organization with chapters in Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec City, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver, and Kingston, which advocates for democracy and human rights in Egypt.

    For further information contact:

    • Amnesty International Canada: Hilary Homes, MENA Campaigner, (613)744-7667#247 hhomes@amnesty.ca
    • Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy: Mostafa Elhoushi, Media and Outreach, (403) 702-4156, mostafa.elhoushi@eccd.ca

    Contact information of signatories:

    • Ryerson Students' Union: Rajean Hoilett, President, president@rsuonline.ca, Office: (416) 979-5255 Ext 2324, Cell: (289) 923-3534
    • University of Regina Students’ Union: Devon Peters, President, pres@ursu.ca, Phone: (306) 586-8811 Ext 206
    • University of Victoria Students’ Society: Greg Atkinson, Director of External Relations, uvssextn@uvic.ca, Office: (250) 721-8366, Cell: (250) 813-1752
    • University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union Executive Committee: Susanne Waldorf, Civics and Environment Commissioner, civics@utgsu.ca, Phone: (416) 978-0510
    • Carleton University Graduate Students' Association: Justine Mallah, VP Operations,  vpo@gsacarleton.ca, Phone: (613) 520-6616 Ext 8270
    • Post Graduate Students’ Society of McGill University: Julien Ouellet, External Affairs Officer, external.pgss@mail.mcgill.ca, Phone: (514) 398-3756

    Background

    Since the overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president on July 13 2013, Egypt has witnessed a series of damaging blows to human rights and state violence on an unprecedented scale. Widespread student protests against the repressive practices of the current military regime in Egypt have rocked Egypt since the start of the previous academic year and since the beginning of the current academic year on 11 October 2014, and have been met by a fierce response from the authorities.

    According to the Egyptian Observatory of Rights and Freedoms, more than 210 students have been killed since July 3rd 2013, 17 of them have been killed during police raids on campuses, and 6 of them died in detention due to torture or inadequate health care. At least 2087 students across the country have been detained since July 3rd 2013, according to Marsad Tolab Horreya (Student Freedom Observatory), many of them remain in detention on vague or groundless charges including participating in protests without authorization. Moreover, at least 639 students have been expelled from their universities due to protesting, many of them were dismissed without due disciplinary process.

    You may also refer to these reports from Amnesty International to help explain more details on the student protests in Egypt as well as the violations of human rights in Egypt in general:

    Egypt: Security forces use excessive force to crush student protests (17 October 2014)
    Egypt: Student detained and tortured after protest: Mahmoud Hussien (14 November 2014)
    Egypt: Further information: Women jailed for campus protests (30 May 2014)
    Egypt’s defence of human rights record ‘cynical’ (5 November 2014)
    Blog: In Solidarity with Egyptian Students on #Jan25
    Human Rights In Egypt