This year’s edition of the UN Climate Conference (#COP27) will take place in Sharm El Sheikh, #Egypt. According to @Amnesty International, the Egyptian authorities are “seeking to use the event as a rebranding exercise to deflect criticism of their abysmal human rights record”.
In the run-up, Egyptian authorities have arrested many members of civil society (including activists), critical journalists, and academics. They have been arresting people merely because they were suspected of supporting the call for peaceful protests during the event. This shouldn’t be a surprise since the regime has violently repressed the right to protest and free speech for over a decade. During that period, tens of thousands of citizens, including human rights and environmental activists like #Alaa Abd El Fateh, were locked up and tortured.
The recent harassments and arrests raise serious concerns over how the Egyptian authorities will respond to protests during COP27. This year, there won’t be any protest marches or platforms to share alternative solutions because activists are restricted to separate designated facilities. Especially local organisations won’t be able to engage effectively during the conference. Those allowed to participate are encouraged to speak only on “welcome” topics, according to a recent @HumanRightsWatch report.
In an interview with @Guardian, Richard Pearshouse (environmental director at HRW) stated that “failing to address abuses by Egypt and other authoritarian regimes will obstruct the rollout of ambitious climate policies needed to transition away from fossil fuels and curtail global heating”. Challenging political leaders and speaking the truth in public spaces is essential in our collective fight against climate change. This is one of the reasons prominent activists, such as @GretaThunberg, have decided to sit this COP out.
Those who have the freedom to speak up have the responsibility to do so. Mitigating climate change and fighting for human rights are interlinked struggles. These shouldn’t be separated. Let’s stand in solidarity with every climate and human rights activist because we need each voice to fend off climate change.