Issue 429: Top Rights Prize Nominee Supports Killing Israelis

Top Rights Prize Nominee Supports Killing Israelis

Human Rights Watch must cancel nomination of terror supporter Mona Seif

GENEVA, April 30, 2013 – A jury comprised of Human Rights Watch and nine other NGOs has nominated an Egyptian activist for the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, even though she tweeets for terror, reports theGeneva-based UN Watch. (See below UNW’s open letter to Ken Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, a key member of the jury.)
Several Egyptian human rights activists expressed shock at the nomination. Amr Bakly, who heads the Cairo Liberal Forum, tweeted: “The Martin Ennals Award is not for terrorist supporters. . . Mona Saif is a terrorist supporter!” Maikel Nabil, a former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, jailed by Egypt in 2011 for his human rights activism, also expressed alarm: “The Martin Ennals Award can be awarded to Mona Seif if its committee is able to explain to the victims of terrorism why they deserve to be killed by those whom Mona supports.”

Letter Urging HRW to Cancel Nomination of Terror Supporter

The following letter was sent today to Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth.


Kenneth Roth
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10118-3299
United States of America

April 30, 2013
Dear Mr. Roth,
I want to commend you again for expelling Richard Falk from your organization, after my December letter to you protesting his support for Hamas terrorism, 9/11 conspiracy theories absolving Al Qaeda for attacks on Americans, and antisemitism. Although Falk had served on the Human Rights Watch committee for many years, you admirably removed him within 24 hours of receiving our letter. Despite the outrage of Falk and his supporters, you rightly held to your decision.
Today I regret that, yet again, I must ask you to distance your organization from another open supporter of terrorism. I hope and trust that you will act with the same alacrity.
We are shocked to learn that Human Rights Watch has joined with others in naming Mona Seif of Egypt as one of three Final Nominees for the 2013 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders—termed by some “the Nobel for human rights”—on whose jury you play a key role.
By rewarding a person with a pattern and practice of publicly inciting to violence against civilians, terrorism, and war crimes, you are dishonoring and indeed desecrating the memory and legacy of human rights activist Martin Ennals.
We urge you to call on the jury to immediately cancel Ms. Seif’s nomination, on grounds of her public advocacy of violence against civilians, terrorism, and war crimes, which is in complete violation of the Award criteria of “promotion and protection of human rights,” and of the noble principles of your own organization.
Compelling evidence of the above can be found, for example, in the following messages published on the Internet by Ms. Seif to her 180,000 Twitter followers, and to the world:

  • On July 6, 2011, Ms. Seif advocated the blowing up of pipelines exporting Egyptian gas to Israel. She praised those who commit such crimes as“heroes” and wrote “Fuck Israel”. Many have been killed and injured in violence connected to these attacks.
  • On November 6, 2012, Ms. Seif endorsed Al Qassam Brigades attacks on civilians. On that day, Amnesty International—another jury member—tweeted a “Demand that @netanyahu & @AlqassamBrigade stop attacks on civilians.”Ms. Seif rejected the call, writing:“you don’t ask an occupied nation to stop their “Resistance” to end violence!!! SHAME ON YOU!”
  • On November 20, 2012, Ms. Seif endorsed the arming of Gaza terrorist groups. On that day, Amnesty International tweeted: “Stop the madness! Share this image if you want an arms embargo on all sides #Israel #Hamas #Gaza.” The image showed innocent civilians in Israel and Gaza. Seif responded:“@amnesty & @hrw r leading a shameful campaign asking Palestinians under occupation & non stop air strikes 2 stop their resistance!”

In other words, Ms. Seif not only engaged in public incitement to the blowing up of pipelines, but attacked your own organization’s call to end violence against Israeli civilians as “shameful.” In endorsing the actions of the Al Qassam Brigades, she was advocating, supporting and legitimizing attacks such as their launch of Fajr 5 missiles at the city of Tel Aviv.
Indeed, the terrorism endorsed by Ms. Seif during this period included 1500 rocket attacks targeting civilian areas in Israel, killing and wounding civilians, destroying civilian property, and traumatizing millions of men, women and children.
We remind you that under international humanitarian law the above policies and practices endorsed by Ms. Seif constitute war crimes.
I have written today to Hans Thoolen, Chair of the prize jury, with a copy to former Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey, head of the supporting foundation.
But I am writing to you as well because HRW clearly played an influential role in the selection of Ms. Seif. Your director in Egypt, Ms. Heba Morayef, is featured on the award’s website, in a video of testimonials, effusively praising Mona Seif.
Moreover, your representative and Seif often exchange messages on Twitter, and clearly know each other well. In fact, Seif recently asked her followers to elect Morayef to Time Magazine’s list of Top 100 influential people of the year. HRW should obviously investigate why Morayef and/or other staffers endorsed Seif’s nomination despite knowing of her support for terrorist violence.
Martin Ennals was a great human rights activist whose work continues to inspire so many. He was a model of peace and non-violence. We urge you not to associate his memory and legacy—and the name of your own important organization—with an advocate of war crimes. And we urge you not to legitimize a preacher of terror.
Hillel C. Neuer
Executive Director


UN Watch