Egypt released a mass amnesty for 30 imprisoned activists

CAIRO — Egypt announced the release of 30 political activists late Thursday, the latest mass release amid heightened international scrutiny of the country’s human rights record.

The identity of the activists has not been released and it was not possible to confirm how many have already been released.

This was reported by Tarik al-Awadi, a member of the pardon committee of the Egyptian president. He said that 30 people are in detention center on charges related to their “opinions”.

El-Awady later posted photos that showed several of the released prisoners hugging family members and friends.

Since 2013, the government of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has cracked down on dissidents and critics, jailing thousands, effectively banning protests and controlling social media. According to Human Rights Watch estimates in 2019, there are about 60,000 political prisoners in Egyptian prisons, many of them without trial.

The issue came into focus earlier this month when Egypt hosted a two-week world climate summit. The conference, held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, was partially overshadowed by the hunger strike of jailed Egyptian political dissident Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

During the opening of the summit, known as COP27, Abdel-Fattah stepped up a months-long partial hunger strike to completely cut off any calorie intake, and stopped drinking water to draw attention to his work and others like him.

Then, as concerns about his fate grew, he called off his strike. He remains in prison.

In the months leading up to the summit, Egypt tried to repair its international image, pardoning dozens of prisoners and creating a new “strategy” to improve its human rights record.

Rights groups are skeptical that the moves will translate into any lasting change, with Amnesty International describing the strategy as a “shiny cover” used to mediate in favor of foreign governments and financial institutions.