Cairo: 11 May, 2016
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported that it got the approval from prisoner of opinion “Hisham Jafar” to publish the document of “Strengthening the Democratic Political Sphere in Egypt” that led to his detention in October 2015. This document shows that Jafar has fallen victim to the conflict between state agencies in Egypt, some of which aim at retaining the state of polarization and political rivalry and sowing fear among people. They endeavor to facilitate the justification of the climate of repression leading segments of citizens to consent to cede their rights in demanding democracy and respect for human rights. On the other hand, other state agencies are intending to accept this document, which reinforces the foundations of a political and democratic dialogue that makes Egypt move forwards, especially after the success of the same experience in Tunisia. Nevertheless, these latter bodies appear to be too weak to achieve such democratic goals, as they failed to put an end to the severe deterioration or halt the domination of these radically repressive wings.
In collaboration with the Swiss foundation “The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD)”, “Mada” Foundation for Media and Research Development, headed by Hisham Jafar, to lead a dialogue between more than 10 Egyptian parties and public figures, which includes all political trends and backgrounds in Egypt, whether the oppositional or the regime-backed ones. The dialogue aimed at writing a fundamental document that governs the dialogue between the Egyptian community’s parties in order to resolve its acute crisis and the severe political polarization; given that the Swiss-based foundation “HD” has already cooperated with many Tunisian institutions in carrying out a political and democratic dialogue that may help to avoid conflict and rivalry. The experience has considerably succeeded. Not only did it result in Tunisia being moved forwards on the path of the rule of law and coexistence, but also the four key dialogue institutions were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. They are; “The Tunisian General Labour Union”, The Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA)”, “The National Bar Association of Tunisia”, and “The Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LTDH)”.
Hisham Jafar and his foundation have started to hold a number of meetings, seminars and dialogues that were participated by dozens of public figures and various politically and ideologically-diversified parties. And once the document “Strengthening the Democratic Political Sphere in Egypt” has been drafted, some of the major bodies in the state started and tried very hard to thwart the dialogue; as an attempt to impose the state of chaos, rivalry and polarization in the country, which allow them to bypass the rule of law, and for fear of attaining the stage of coexistence and accountability. And indeed, the other agencies were then faced by the fact of Jafar’s detention by trumping up several accusations against him, and intimidating many of the public figures and parties that participated in the formation of this document in order not to declare the real reasons behind his detention.
Since his detention in last October, Jafar has been awaiting for the state to correct such a mistake and free him, even if it asks him to cease his initiative in encouraging dialogue and coexistence among the different segments of the Egyptian society, but to no avail.
The continuation of his detention for a period exceeds the six months has led Jafar to agree to disclose this document and declare the real reasons for his imprisonment.
While publishing to the public opinion the real reasons for Jafar’s detention, ANHRI regrets that the state apparatuses, topped by the State Security Service “National Security”, are deeply involved in thwarting the attempts of resolving the state of lawlessness, repression and the absence of the rule of law. It appears to be difficult for these agencies to find a justification for the ongoing police crackdown and the acceptance of the police measures without aborting any attempt to or initiative to create a climate of dialogue and coexistence; the matter that made the Tunisian experience, which Jafar took as a role model, succeed in moving their country forwards, meanwhile Egypt became backwards.
At time the Tunisian parties that created and launched an initiative for dialogue and coexistence won their Nobel Peace Prize, Hisham Jafar endured imprisonment and defamation. While the Tunisian society is enjoying-despite some difficulties- a state of co-existence and stability, the Egyptian one suffers further tension and repression; due to the prevalence of a climate which provides means of survival for some bodies that got used to the violation of law and the lack of accountability.
“This document, which summarized the original one, could have led to the creation of an atmosphere that contributes to overcoming the state of severe polarization and political conflict, and even ceasing extremism and violence in Egypt. The opportunity is still there for the civil society and rational parties in the authority to cooperate together, in order to halt the encroachments committed by some bodies against the Egyptians participating in their community’s affairs, and also to pursuit dialogue for resolving the crisis suffered by everyone in the society”, ANHRI said.
The Text of the Summarized Document:
For Consolidating a Democratic Political Field Governed by Agreed-Ethical Rules:
Working on strengthening the democratic path and reinforcing the political sphere would led to the development of the society and protecting the Egyptian state institutions as well as boosting the citizenship rights and strongly supporting Egypt’s regional and international status, in light of the several challenges faced by the nation. These goals are also considered as the best ways to counter the threat of violence on one hand and the crackdown on the field of political work and freedoms on the other hand.
Egyptian parties, powers, and figures with multiple affiliations and sometimes radically-different intellectual backgrounds believe that the peaceful political work is necessary to achieve the basic demands of people as well as security in this critical period of Egypt’s history.
Therefore, we call on the national powers, political parties and movements to minimally adopt this document, by virtue of rivalry among each other. This would contribute to the rationalization of political work and enhancing the way of dealing with disagreements and political considerations; as a noble practice of public affairs management and a key supporter of the national interest, as well as the national constants and the common values and ethics.
These commitments, which had emerged from the workshop held on 29/04/2015 about “strengthening the democratic political sphere in the transitional stages”, constitute the output resulted from the participation of a number of Egyptian political figures, who represent different organizations and intellectual streams and movements.
It is also a call directed to all relevant political parties and figures, for the sake of launching the course of consultations and dialogues aimed to establish the conditions for strengthening the political sphere, and standardizing a code of ethics for the political work, in addition to developing practical mechanisms in order to be put into practice and their implementation can be followed up.
This document represent a contribution made by national powers and figures, who are concerned about the public affairs and the supreme national interest, and who also care for boosting the democratic political sphere. It aims to establish common democratic fundamentals as well as rules that govern competition and political difference. It does not constitute, by any way, a political alliance, coalition or bloc.
First: Work Ethics and Political Discourse:
The participating parties agree on the need to act on the basis of awareness of responsibility towards the society to jolt the public conscience and national interest. They also consent to preserve the democratic path, fulfill the popular demands for freedom, justice and dignity, and to protect civil peace, communal harmony and national security.
Accordingly, during political gatherings and in the framework of its communications through media outlets, the participating parties shall refrain from the following:
a) Threating to or inciting violence, by any way, against any person or group
b) Defaming or inciting hatred, atonement or conviction of treason, terrorism, espionage, or any other similar serious charges.
c) Reinforcing racial, sectarian or tribal strifes that would affect citizenship rights
d) libel and vilification
The Parties shall avoid criticizing the rival parties’ leaders or supporters by abusing their personal inviolability, launching criticism that is based on untrue allegations or distorted facts, or directing hurtful phrases or innuendos against the litigants as well as their family members- on the basis of creed, gender, ethnic origin, or the level and quality of education or any other similar features.
Second: Core Principles Governing the Political Work
Article 1: Preserving and reforming the state institutions.
Regardless of their affiliations, state institutions should equally treated all citizens
Article 2: The participating parties shall agree on the need to combat terrorism: while guaranteeing freedoms and maintaining the legal and constitutional frameworks.
Article 3: To create a political space, which everyone can participate in, it is required to adopt a rejection towards ruling out or excluding any political or intellectual stream from the public sphere, or precluding them from participating in the democratic rivalry, as long as they will be committed to the following:
– Respect for the Constitution and the law.
– Peaceful and public work.
– Separation between religious advocacy and party work.
– Refrain from discrimination among citizens on a religious or gender basis
– Avoid involvement in economic or political corruption.
Article 4: The particiapting political powers are obliged to ensure the non-use of places of worship for partisan political purposes.
Article 5: To seek and demand the establishment of an independent and effective transitional justice system.
Third: Measures Given Priority (binding upon the parties involved in the electoral votes):
Guaranteeing a transparent and fair electoral process through:
– Complying with the maximum limit set by the law while agreeing on the election campaign, with the necessity to activate the role of censorship preventing the political money from influencing the voters
– Renouncing violence and intimidation of voters.
– Urging state institutions to adopt a neutral stance during the election process, and respecting freedom of assembly
– Fully allow political parties’ observers and representatives to follow up all the electoral process’ stages, without imposing any restrictions on them.