Egypt: a rogue state

Ambassador Marc Sievers

U.S. Charge d’Affaires to Egypt Marc Sievers

Secretary of State John Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry

Dear Secretary Kerry and Mr. Sievers,

On March 3, an American citizen was detained at the airport in Cairo, placed in a holding cell with other detainees, and held for hours without being given any information for the reasons for her detention. Egyptian security personnel later came into the cell, threw her to the floor, dislodged her shoulder and fractured her arm, handcuffed her and then deported her to Turkey, where she finally received medical attention.
Medea Benjamin, 61 years old, co-founder of CODEPINK and Global Exchange, was on her way to the Gaza Strip to meet a delegation of 100 women traveling from abroad to visit with women in Gaza. Although she was never informed by Egyptian authorities, her staff learned that her name was on a black list maintained by Egyptian security.
Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin

Ms. Benjamin’s treatment is standard fare for many Palestinians traveling to and from Gaza. When they are permitted to exit the Gaza Strip, they are herded onto buses and treated like criminals. Many have spent days in Cairo airport’s detention cell, treated no better than prisoners.
An official from Egypt’s Interior Ministry, Brigadier Alaa Mahmoud, said Ms. Benjamin was denied entry, not detained. He said the reason for her deportation was because she had stated her reason for traveling was a trip to Gaza, but the Rafah crossing was closed and so they would not allow her entry into Egypt.
As you know, Israel’s blockade (East, North and West) has effectively severed travel to and from the Gaza Strip. Palestinians are caught in the largest “open air prison” in the world, according to John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (2010).
Egypt’s new government is collaborating in this blockade. Reports indicate the Rafah crossing has been open only 9 days in 2014.
The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) – Article 13 states that “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state; and everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”  Israel and Egypt are violating international law and imposing collective punishment on 1.8 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.
Furthermore, alarming reports are coming out of Egypt about the incarceration of children, students, peaceful protesters and credentialed journalists. The country appears to be a rogue state without respect for the rule of law. 
What is the U.S. government doing about this?
1) Are you aware of Egypt’s “black list” of travelers prohibited from entering Egypt and traveling to Gaza?  I would like a copy of this black list.
2) Are you informed about Egypt’s closure of the Rafah border gate?  What actions are you taking to open the border consistent with international law?
3) What action is your office taking to ensure the safe passage of Americans traveling through the Cairo airport?
4) What action is your office taking to facilitate the release of Mr Greste, an Australian al-Jazeera English reporter, Egyptian-Canadian Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed and Egyptian al-Jazeera Arabic reporter Abdallah Elshamy?
I’m requesting a written response to my inquiry. Thank you.
Mailed to the Honorable John Kerry
United States Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520 
Charge d’Affaires to Egypt Marc J. Sievers
The Embassy of the United States of America
5 Tawfik Diab Street
Garden City, Cairo

1 Comment

Filed under Egypt, People, US Policy

One response to “Egypt: a rogue state

  1. I am so glad Medea is doing ok. As a dual national (US/Egypt) I am furious at both the US Gov and the Gov of Egypt. Ask yourself the question – From WHOM does the Egyptian governemnt take it is orders to close the Gaza border and stop peace activists from entering Gaza? And why is the Egyptian Gov part of this extreme blockade of the Gazan people? The Egyptian people are in sympathy with the Gazan people and want to help them. So WHY is the Gov of Egypt acting so contrary to the will of the Egyptian people? WHO does the GOE take orders from? This is the question. This has always been the question……for decades now….no matter who is Pres. of Egypt.

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