Democracy News: February 15, 2017

Renewed Crackdown on Egyptian Civil Society| Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World 2017” Reports Decline in Global Freedoms|World Movement for Democracy Participants Meet at 9th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy |Call for Applications: The Gender and Technology Institute in Asia

Renewed Crackdown on Egyptian Civil Society

On February 2, 2017, Citizen Lab published the “Nile Phish Report: Large-Scale Phishing Campaign Targeting Egyptian Civil Society.” The report details the several-month campaign against Egyptian activists who received various “phishing” emails including one that claimed to be a copy of an arrest warrant for Azza Soliman, the founder of the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA). Several of the activists targeted by the attacks are affiliated with Case 173, or the “NGO foreign funding case,” and it is believed that the attacks are intended to support state surveillance against them. Citizen Lab has refrained from attributing the attacks to any particular entity, but the Egyptian state is suspected of playing some role in the attacks, yet another indication of an increasingly hostile environment for civil society in the country.

Attacks against Egyptian civil society have continued offline as well. Three weeks ago, the government placed a travel ban on Negad El Borai, an Egyptian human rights lawyer and the Director of United Group for Law, for his involvement in the “NGO foreign funding case.” On February 4, 2017, another travel ban was issued against civil society activist Gamal Eld, Executive Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Five days later, Egyptian security forces shut down El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture (El Nadeem).

Learn more about Egyptian activists who have been wrongfully targeted for their human rights work, and what you can do to help at

World Movement for Democracy (WMD) Participants Meet at 9th Geneva Summit

On February 21, 2017, activists will convene to discuss global human rights issues at the 9th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, in Geneva, Switzerland. The event is held in conjunction with the UN Human Rights Council’s annual session, which will meet later that week. Jose Luis Gascon, Chairman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will be the first Filipino speaker featured at the Summit since its inception in 2009. Gascon will testify about the decline of human rights in the Philippines due to the country’s recent “war on drugs” initiated by President Rodrigo Duterte. The war has resulted in an estimated 4,800 extrajudicial killings “by police and unidentified gunmen since he took office.” In November 2015, Gascon was an opening speaker at the World Movement for Democracy’s Seoul Assembly, which you can watch here.

Other speakers at the event include: Svitlana Zalishchuk, Ukrainian Parliamentarian and former journalist; Antonietta Ledezma, activist and daughter of the imprisoned Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma; Rosa Maria Paya a Cuban pro-democracy human rights activist and the President of the WMD participant network JuventudLAC, as well several other prominent activists. Zalishchuk is a Steering Committee member of the World Movement for Democracy. Registration for the event is free and available online.

Freedom House’s “Freedom in the World 2017” Reports Decline in Global Freedoms

On January 31, 2017, Freedom House released its “Freedom in the World 2017” report, an annual report that rates political and civil rights around the world. For the 11th consecutive year, Freedom House found that every region in the world experienced a decline in freedom, stating that: “a total of 67 countries suffered net declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, compared with 36 that registered gains.” Ethiopia and Venezuela experienced two of the most dramatic declines in freedom due to various forms of systematic suppression of political dissent.

Since November 2015, the Ethiopian government has killed at least 500 people in their crackdown on Oromo protesters. The government’s decision to issue a six-month state of emergency has resulted in the arbitrary detention of individuals critical of the state, such as Ethiopian politician Dr. Merera Gudina.

For the first time, Venezuela was downgraded to “not free,” a score merited by the government’s efforts to block both the Presidential recall referendum, as well as the legislative branch’s attempts to pass laws enabling Venezuelans’ access to international humanitarian aid, and the release of political prisoners. Read Freedom House’s interactive version of the “Freedom in the World 2017” report and their individual country reports here.

Call for Applications: The Gender and Technology Institute in Asia

The Tactical Tech Collective (TTC), is accepting applications for their next Gender and Technology Institute (GTI) in Asia. During the meeting, GTI attendees will learn practical ways to leverage technology in their activism, as well as how to “build movement-based discussions around security and privacy from a gendered perspective.” The four-day meeting will convene at the end of April 2017 in South or South East Asia; however, the exact location of event has yet to be determined.

Learn more about GTI and how to apply here. Applications for the upcoming session will close on February 27, 2017 at 23:59 CET.