Women Wage Hunger Strike Over NGO Bill

Three Egyptian women’s human rights activists have begun a hunger strike over a proposed bill which would impose significant restrictions on the activities of NGOs. A sit-in protest at the Centre for Human Rights Legal Aid office is also planned.

Two of the hunger strikers, Aida Seif al-Dawla and Suzanne Fayad, work for the El-Nadim Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence. The third striker, Rahma Refa’at, is a lawyer for the Centre for Trade Union Workers’ Services.

Dawla said of the proposed restrictions, “This law is repressive and it nationalizes civil society activities and makes us part of the Social Affairs Ministry.” She pledged, “We will continue our hunger strike until our modest and feasible demands are considered.”

A statement signed by 15 NGOs condemned the bill, saying it “puts enormous restrictions on NGO and voluntary work in Egypt.” Signatories accused the drafting committee and the Egyptian Cabinet of ignoring their position on the legislation and have promised to defy the bill if it is enacted. “We shall consider any such law null and void, and we shall not abide by it,” read the signed statement.

Signatories further pledged that, if the proposed legislation is not withdrawn before Tuesday’s scheduled vote, a large group of protestors will descend on the People’s Assembly and demand a vote with parliamentary members and its speaker.


Reuters - May 23, 1999

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