Egypt: Statement demanding the release of journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada's father

September 06, 2023

MENA Rights Group joins 40+ signatories in urging Egyptian authorities to release Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada, the father of human rights defender, journalist and former prisoner of conscience Ahmed Gamal Ziada. Furthermore, we call on authorities to cease their acts of reprisal against families of journalists and human rights defenders.

Gamal Ziada and his son Ahmed Ziada. © Courtesy of Ahmed Ziada and the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

We, the undersigned organisations, call on the Egyptian government to immediately and unconditionally release Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada, the father of human rights defender, journalist and former prisoner of conscience Ahmed Gamal Ziada. This arrest serves as a stark reminder that the Egyptian authorities' approach to human rights remains unchanged, and that they continue to relentlessly silence dissenting voices despite claims of progress and reform and that acts of reprisal against families of journalists and human rights defenders (HRD) are weaponized to target HRDs in the diaspora.

On August 22, plainclothes security forces abducted Ahmed Gamal’s father in front of his storefront in the village of Nahya. After 24 hours of enforced disappearance, he appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, where he was charged with joining a terrorist group, spreading false news, and misusing social media. During his disappearance, he was interrogated about his son’s journalistic work, indicating the real reason for his arrest. 

On August 30 The Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to renew the detention of Gamal Ziada for 15 days pending investigations of lawsuit No. 2064 of 2023. he undersigned organisations express deep concern and condemnation regarding the recent decision to renew the detention of Mr. Gamal Ziada. It raises serious questions about due process and respect for human rights.

Over the past two years, the Egyptian authorities have tried to whitewash its record of human rights violations and repression. We have witnessed steps intended to portray the government as open to dialogue and willing to engage in national reconciliation, including with the political opposition. We have seen the government launch a human rights strategy and declaring 2022 as the “year of civil society.” Among these steps have been the release of some political prisoners, including prominent opposition figures such as human rights lawyer Ziad El-Eaileimy and activist Ahmed Douma, who was recently granted a presidential pardon after spending nearly 10 years in prison on politically motivated charges.

While these releases are important and necessary, they fall short of addressing the systemic repression of the past decade. Further, recent incidents, such as the arrests of Ziada, and the arrest of journalist Karim Assad and harassment of fact-checking and independent media platform Matsadaash, serve as undeniable evidence that the Egyptian authorities lack the political will to implement meaningful reforms.

These retaliatory actions attempt to silence the voices that courageously challenge the status quo and expose human rights violations. In the spirit of unity and solidarity, we call upon all human rights organisations and defenders to condemn these violations. Let us form a united front against repression, demonstrating that our shared commitment to human rights and HRDs knows no boundaries.

The path toward enhancing human rights and democracy in Egypt remains riddled with challenges. However, our determination to uphold these values and our solidarity must persist, ensuring a future characterized by justice and freedom for all individuals.

By signing on to this statement, we declare that we stand shoulder to shoulder, committed to advocating for justice, freedom, and the fundamental rights of every individual. Together, we transcend borders and amplify the voices that echo the aspirations of a brighter, more just future for the Egyptian people. Let this be a beacon of hope and inspiration for all those who believe in the transformative power of collective action. The journey ahead may be challenging, but together, we can overcome the darkest of times and illuminate the path towards a world where human rights prevail.


Civil society organisations:

Egyptian Human Rights Forum ( EHRF), The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP), Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR), NoPhotoZone, Families for Freedom, Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti Violence Studies, Sinaifhr, Center for American Progress, The US Committee to End Political Repression in Egypt, El Nadine Center, The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, Committee for Justice, Taafi initiative, EuroMed Rights, The Committee to Protect Journalists, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), MENA Rights Group, EgyptWide for Human Rights, Human Rights First, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), FairSquare, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)


Ahmed Gamal Ziada - Journalist, Solafa Magdy - Journalist, Waleed Shawky - Dentist, Abdelrahman ElGendy - Writer, Mohamed Mokhtar - Human rights defender, Hossam el-Hamalawy - Journalist, Amr Hashad - Researcher and human rights defender , Mahienour El-Massry - Lawyer, Eleonora Andriolo, Sarah Hamza - Legal researcher and data scientist, Kholoud Helmi - Journalist, Human rights activist, Hassan el-Banna Taher - Editor, Iman gad, Shrouk Amgad - Human rights defender, Allison McManus  -  Senior Director, Sherif Azer - Director of Programs, Dr. Aymen Zaghdoudi - Media law assistant professor, Mostafa Al-a'sar - Egyptian Journalist & HRD, Salma El Hosseiny - Human rights defender, Amr Magdi – Human Rights Researcher

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