News: News Archives
Saad Eddin Ibrahim to be Honored
for Human Rights Work
Since 1994, the Science and Human Rights Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has hosted a reception at its Annual Meeting to recognize a scientist who, through action and example, has promoted human rights, usually at great personal risk. The reception provides an opportunity for scientists, reporters and others to learn more about the human rights work of scientific societies and the plight of persecuted scientists in other countries, as well as human rights issues that affect scientists worldwide.
On Saturday, 15 February 2003, AAAS staff will be honored to recognize the unwavering courage and commitment to human rights of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Cairo, Egypt. Ibrahim is the founder and director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies, a Cairo-based think tank that conducts research on democracy, civil society, and minority rights in Egypt.
Ibrahim's ordeal began in the summer of 2000, when Egyptian security forces appeared late one night at his house to arrest him. He was taken to a Cairo jail cell along with 27 of his associates at the Ibn Khaldun Center. They were charged with deliberately disseminating false information, spreading malicious rumors about the internal affairs of the State, harming the image of the State abroad, and illegally accepting funds from the European Union. The charges were related to a documentary that the Ibn Khaldun Center had created about voting rights and voter fraud in Egypt. The Center has been a strong voice in Egypt, calling for an independent judicial review of elections. Until their arrest, Center staff were planning to serve as election monitors in the 2000 parliamentary elections.
In May 2001, a court found Ibrahim guilty and sentenced him to a seven-year prison term. The first ruling was set aside in February 2002 when Egypt's highest appeals court found the original court's decision to be flawed on six counts. Ibrahim had a second trial, but was unable to address any of the substantive points of the case. Egyptian law only permitted the defense to address procedural grounds. Defense lawyers argued that the court had ignored several aspects of their testimony, including evidence from Awad El-Mor, a former judge of the Supreme Court, who challenged the constitutionality of the 1992 military decree that made it illegal for Egyptian organizations to accept foreign money without government permission. The defense had also presented testimony from Khaled Fayad, who had originally accused Ibrahim of embezzling the funds from the European Union. Fayad testified that he had been pressured by security forces into making the false allegations. The European Union had also submitted an affidavit, restating its position that none of the $250,000 in grants had been misused.
Despite these arguments, the trial ended in July 2002 with a second guilty verdict. Ibrahim's lawyers filed a successful appeal for a new trial, which is scheduled to begin on 3 February 2003. During this trial, which will be Ibrahim's third on the charges, Egyptian law will allow his defense lawyers to address the substance of the case. Although it is far from clear what the outcome will be, defense lawyers believe that they have enough evidence to convince a court that the charges against Ibrahim are baseless and that he should be acquitted.
Ibrahim's health has suffered greatly while in prison. He suffers from a neurological disorder that impedes the flow of oxygen to his brain, and he was not receiving sufficient medical care while in prison.
Throughout his long ordeal, the international scientific community has rallied behind their colleague, sending letters of his behalf and protesting the guilty verdicts. The AAAS Science and Human Rights Program immediate issued an alert after Dr. Ibrahim's initial arrest in 2000 on the AAAS Human Rights Action Network and closely followed the case, issuing eight more AAASHRAN alerts as developments occurred in the trial.
The American Sociological Association has also been very active in protesting the human rights violations against their Egyptian colleague. In a recent letter to President Mubarak, ASA President Barbara F. Reskin and ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman wrote: "ASA is not alone in its outrage over this issue. However, as a scientific society, we are particularly concerned that compromising science, as Dr. Ibrahim's sentencing surely does, undermines a country's educational and cultural vitality as well as its economic and political stature."
ASA will cosponsor the February reception and send ASA representative, Harriet Presser, to present some remarks about ASA's efforts on behalf of Dr. Ibrahim.
Ibrahim's daughter, Randa S. Ibrahim, will accept the honor on behalf of her father and will deliver remarks that he prepared. The reception will be held in Ballroom I of the Denver Marriot City Center on Saturday, February 15th at 5:30 pm. Refreshments will be served.
8 January 2003