We, the Board of Directors of Global Fund for Women, express global solidarity with our sister and fellow Board member Mozn Hassan. Mozn’s bold activism, relentless courage and determination to stand up for women’s human rights, and resilience in the face of repeated roadblocks from the government, inspires us all.
Mozn is the Founder and Executive Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies in Egypt, a prominent women’s rights organization whose efforts to strengthen the Egyptian feminist movement, defend women’s human rights, end sexual violence, and empower young women leaders have had a crucial impact on women’s rights in Egypt as well as throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Earlier this week, on June 27, Mozn was banned from traveling outside of Egypt by the government. While she was at passport control at the Cairo airport, authorities informed her that she had been banned from travel and would not be allowed to travel to Beirut as planned to attend this week’s meeting of the Women Human Rights Defenders regional coalition.
This travel ban is the latest in the Egyptian government’s attempt to block Mozn from continuing to defend human rights, from being able to continue her passionate and powerful work as an activist and women’s rights leader. In recent months, the Egyptian government’s crackdown on human rights and feminist spaces has been escalating significantly. The number of travel bans instituted has been rising—a common form of judicial harassment against women human rights defenders to try to block them from effectively doing their work—along with official investigations and interrogations of organizations, including Nazra, and many activists. According to Human Rights Watch, Mozn was the fourth director of a civil society organization to be banned from traveling abroad since late 2014.
These travel bans are also an attempt by authorities to hurt the public image of Mozn and other women human rights defenders by sending the message that they are perceived as “criminals” who refuse to live in their country and are planning to leave and never come back. These claims are in direct contradiction to the years of efforts Mozn and other women human rights defenders have dedicated to their country to advance the human rights of their fellow citizens.
“This latest attempt to block her work will only make Mozn more determined than ever to continue her crucial work to advance women’s human rights,” said Musimbi Kanyoro, President and CEO of Global Fund for Women. “The Egyptian government’s attempt to close the space for civil society and criminalize human rights defenders must end. The international community needs to hold authorities accountable and condemn these actions, for Mozn and for the other women human rights defenders who are facing similar unwarranted harassment by the government.”
As a signer to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Egypt has committed to upholding the right to freedom of movement and freedom of expression. Egypt’s recent actions and escalating crackdown on civil society and activists—including Mozn’s travel ban, along with this week’s arrest and threatened deportation of TV talk show host Liliane Daoud—are in direct violation of this commitment.
We call on the international community to join us in loudly condemning the Egyptian authorities’ treatment of Mozn. Reach out to Egyptian embassies and consulates and urge them to end Mozn’s travel ban. Contact Egyptian embassies and consulates to demand they put an end to all investigations and forms of harassment against human rights defenders and critical civil society organizations immediately.
To our sister Mozn: From all of us, we stand with you from all corners of the world, and we will not back down until you have justice. We know that this latest attempt to silence you will only make you louder. We know that this will not stop you but only make you stronger, but we hope that you take critical time to recover and focus on self-care. Because of your bold leadership and activism, and your commitment to empowering others, you have a large community of women and men in Egypt and around the world who stand with you. We will not let this go unnoticed and we will not stop demanding action until the government’s crackdown on you and other women human rights defenders, and on Nazra and other leading civil society organizations, completely and fully ends.