Three months ago around 1:30am on a Saturday morning, seven plain clothes policemen arrested Ramy Kamel in his home under false charges brought by Egyptian authorities. Kamel’s house was stormed by security forces who confiscated his phone, camera, and laptop and then took him away. Several hours later Kamel, a Coptic Christian advocate, founded the Maspero Youth Union in 2011 after the infamous Maspero Massacre in which 27 Copts were killed by the Egyptian military while peacefully protesting a church closure.
Mr. Kamel studied law at university and runs his own tailoring shop. He is the breadwinner for his family which includes his elderly mother, a single sister, and a married sister with a disabled husband and two young children.
Just 18 days prior, Kamel had been arrested, beaten and interrogated without legal representation in an effort to compel him to reveal his research sources, and likely to intimidate him prior to his participation at a future UN Forum.
In the latest arrest, he was brought to the headquarters of the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement neighborhood. Kamel was interrogated again without legal representation. Kamel was sentenced to prison pending investigation in Case no. 1475 of 2019, which is the very same one under which a labor activist named Khalil Rizk was charged. Rizk was the last person for whom Kamel had advocated and posted about publicly.
UN experts issued a statement calling for his release. Rights groups almost universally agree that Kamel’s arrest is a direct effort by the Egyptian government to punish and silence him. He has been a leading advocate for documenting and publicizing human rights abuses against Christians who have been displaced from their homes by the government’s actions.
Coptic Solidarity, a civil rights movement dedicated to achieving equality for Copts in Egypt, has launched an online advocacy campaign to secure his release. They have provided a sample message in English and Arabic that will be delivered directly to the inboxes of top Egyptian officials. Coptic Solidarity urges interested individuals to take action and to share the campaign within their communities to create greater pressure on the Egyptian government to immediately and unconditionally release Kamel.