As Egypt prepares to host the COP27 climate summit in November 2022, Egyptian activists have issued an urgent appeal to the global climate justice movement not to be taken in by the regime’s claims to speak on behalf of ordinary people in the Global South. In a statement published by Egypt Solidarity Initiative, the Egyptian Campaign for Climate and Democracy warns that the regime of Abdelfattah al-Sisi is planning to use the COP27 conference to burnish its reputation after presiding over a decade of brutal repression.
“The aim of this greenwashing is twofold: first, to extract as much financial aid as possible from the rich industrialised countries. Most of this money will end up being syphoned out of the country into the bank accounts of Sisi and his generals in those same industrialised countries. Second, is to distract from his abysmal human rights record, and as usual, the leaders of the supposedly democratic Western governments will allow him to get away with it.”The Egyptian Campaign for Climate and Democracy
While the COP27 conference takes place, thousands of people have been jailed and abused for demanding basic democratic rights, including journalists, activists, academics and students. The response of the military regime to protests and campaigns related to environmental issues has been just as harsh, whether over plans to build coal-fired power stations, polluting industries or the destruction of green spaces. Climate justice movements attending the summit are likely to find themselves alongside ‘astroturf’ government-sponsored ‘climate campaigns.’
“No real Egyptian opposition activists will be allowed near Sharm El-Sheikh during the conference. It would be a shame if genuine global grassroots movements are fooled into taking part in such a state-orchestrated charade”The Egyptian Campaign for Climate and Democracy
This appeal follows a similar warning by jailed activist Alaa Abdelfattah, a British citizen who was convicted of ‘terrorism’ for posts on social media and other trumped charges. Alaa has been on hunger strike since 2 April to protest at the abusive conditions in prison. He is also calling for a consular visit from the British embassy. “Of all the countries to host [the COP27] they chose the one banning protest and sending everyone to prison, which tells me how the world is handling this issue. They’re not interested in finding a joint solution for the climate,” he told his sister during a prison visit.
Writer and activist Naomi Klein has also sounded the alarm. “The international climate movement must start paying attention to what is happening in Egypt’s prisons,” she told the Guardian. “We cannot sleepwalk to Cop27 as if these are not crimes against humanity.”
The TUC has also called on the British government to hold the Egyptian regime to account during COP27 for its attacks on workers’ rights to organise. In a statement published in June, ahead of preparatory talks in Bonn ahead of the COP27 conference, the TUC said:
“The Egyptian trade union organisations affiliated to the ITUC – the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions and the Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress – have faced repeated repression, with labour organisers forced to retire, limiting the unions’ ability to function. … Vital to tackling the climate emergency is the need for freedom of association and the rights of workers and communities to organise for change. Since seizing power, the Egyptian government has consistently demonstrated a disregard for human life and these fundamental freedoms. By hosting COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Egyptian government will have an unprecedented opportunity to greenwash its atrocious record in human rights”TUC statement, 10 June
What you can do:
- Read the full statement from Egyptian activists online here
- Share with climate networks in your country and on social media
- Take action in solidarity with Egyptian political prisoners, write to your MP or government calling on them to demand the Egyptian regime releases political detainees and stops repressing protest. Go to FreeAlaa.net for more information on Alaa’s campaign. Find out more here about the cases of journalist and lawyer Hisham Fouad and Haitham Mohamedain.