UN Watch & Egyptian rights activists urge global human rights prize
to cancel nomination of Mona Seif for advocating violence against civilians
Amr Bakly: “The Martin Ennals Award is not for terrorist
supporters. . . Mona Saif is a terrorist supporter!”
GENEVA, April 30, 2013 – A jury comprised of 10 of the world’s leading human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, has nominated an Egyptian activist for a premier human rights prize, even though she “Tweets for terror,” said the Geneva-based UN Watch, a non-governmental human rights monitoring organization, which sent a letter today urging the cancelation of Mona Seif’s nomination. (See below UN Watch letter to Hans Thoolen, Chair of the Martin Ennals Award jury.)
Several Egyptian human rights activists familiar with Seif’s statements, including tweets in English and Arabic, expressed shock at the nomination.
Amr Bakly, an Egyptian human rights activist 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 who was 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 who Mona supports.”
A copy of the letter was sent to former Swiss president Micheline Calmy-Rey, who chairs the prize foundation’s board.
Following is the UN Watch letter sent today.
Mr. Hans Thoolen
Martin Ennals Foundation
Rue du Vieux-Billard 8
30 April 2013
Dear Mr. Thoolen,
We are shocked to see that your organization, the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, has nominated Ms. Mona Seif of Egypt as one of three Final Nominees for your 2013 prize.
By rewarding a person who has 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 legendary human rights activist Martin Ennals.
We urge you, as Chair of the Jury and Secretary of the Board, to immediately cancel Ms. Seif’s nomination on grounds of her public advocacy of violence against civilians, terrorism and war crimes, which is in gross breach of the Award criteria of “promotion and protection of human rights.”
Compelling evidence includes the following messages published on the Internet by Ms. Seif to her 180,000 Twitter followers:
- 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—a jury member of your award—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 inIsraelandGaza. 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 publicly advocated the blowing up of pipelines, but when two of your jury members—Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch— called for an end to violence against civilians, Ms. Seif attacked such calls as “shameful.” In endorsing the actions of the Al Qassam Brigades, she was advocating, supporting and legitimizing such attacks as their launch of Fajr 5 missiles at Tel Aviv.
Indeed, the terrorism endorsed by Ms. Seif during this period included 1500 rockets 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 policy and practice of targeting civilians that was publicly endorsed by Ms. Seif on numerous occasions amounts to an endorsement of war crimes.
Martin Ennals was a great human rights activist whose work continues to inspire so many of us. He was a model of peace and non-violence. We strongly urge you not to associate his memory and legacy with an advocate of war crimes.
Hillel C. Neuer
cc: Micheline Calmy-Rey, President of the Martin Ennals Foundation and former President of Switzerland