Egyptian Alternative Nobel Laureate forced to close office after asset freeze – but fight for women’s rights continues
Human Rights, 16/03/2018
Today, as Egypt’s Women’s Day is celebrated throughout the country, one of its leading organisations defending women rights, Nazra for Feminist Studies, is announcing that they are closing their office in Cairo as a result of having seen their assets frozen by authorities. Volunteers will however continue to keep the hotline supporting survivors of sexual violence open. Nazra and its founder Mozn Hassan shared the 2016 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.
– We see many upsetting attempts to suffocate the women’s rights movement in Egypt and other parts of the world. But no asset freeze or travel ban can stop the brave Egyptian women and activists in their fight for dignity and human rights, said Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
14 months have passed since an Egyptian court in January 2017 approved a freeze on the assets of 2016 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Mozn Hassan and those of her organization Nazra for Feminist Studies. Nazra has managed to keep its office open against all odds ever since, but is now forced to close it. Despite this, Nazra has announced “the continuity of its activities and services through its volunteers, its feminist knowledge production that stems from engagement with the feminist movement, as well as its hotline and incumbent services, and this for the continuity of its contribution to the Egyptian feminist movement.”
– What should have been a day to celebrate the courage and achievements of women in Egypt and the country’s proud feminist movement, marks instead yet another sad step in Egypt’s attempts to crush the independent civil society, said Ole von Uexkull.
Mozn Hassan has been investigated under the infamous “NGO Foreign Funding Case” and is under travel ban since May 2016. She was barred from attending the 37th Award presentation in Stockholm later the same year, which is why the Right Livelihood Award Foundation organised a ceremony in Cairo. It was attended by leaders of Egyptian civil society, European and Egyptian parliamentarians, fellow laureates, diplomats and other dignitaries.
Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies received the 2016 Right Livelihood Award “for asserting the equality and rights of women in circumstances where they are subject to ongoing violence, abuse and discrimination”.
In the face of this adversity, Nazra has vowed to remain resolute in theirworkfor women’s rights in Egypt. They conclude their announcement with the optimistic message, that “Nazra also believes that the presence of several young feminists renews the hope in the presence and continuity of an independent feminist movement that fights all forms of discrimination and violence against women.”
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Further details on the Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies, alongside high-resolution photographs and videos are available here.
About the Award:
Established in 1980, the Right Livelihood Award honours and supports courageous people and organisations offering visionary and exemplary solutions to the root causes of global problems. In total, there are now 170 Laureates from 69 countries. In addition to presenting the annual award, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation also supports the work of its Laureates, particularly those whose lives may be in danger due to the nature of their activities.
This has happened:
Egyptian feminist and human rights defender Mozn Hassan founds Nazra for Feminist Studies, documenting human rights violations and mentoring young women in politics and educating people in gender issues.
Nazra for Feminist studies coordinates the response to the alarming number of sexual assaults on women participating in public protests during and after the Egyptian revolution of 2011, ensuring that survivors received medical, psychological and legal support.
As a part of coalitions of women’s groups, Nazra successfully lobbied for the inclusion of women’s rights in Egypt’s 2014 Constitution and ensured the passage of amendments to the Egyptian Penal Code to include sexual harassment and expand the definition of sexual crimes.
Mozn Hassan is investigated under the infamous “NGO Foreign Funding Case” and is under travel ban since May 2016. These arbitrary measures have been condemned by three UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights. Mozn Hassan and Nazra for Feminist Studies received the 2016 Right Livelihood Award in September the same year. Hassan was barred from attending the 37th Award presentation in Stockholm later the same year.
An Egyptian court approved a freeze on the assets of Mozn Hassan and seized those of Nazra in January 2017 after five UN experts having condemned the asset freeze and described it as reinforcing “a pattern of systematic repression of the Egyptian women’s rights movement, aiming to silence and intimidate those working tirelessly for justice, human rights and equality.” The Right Livelihood Award Foundation organised an Award Presentation in Cairo in March 2017 attended by leaders of Egyptian civil society, European and Egyptian parliamentarians, fellow laureates, diplomats and other dignitaries.
On Egypt’s Women’s Day 16 March, Nazra for Feminist Studies announce that they will close their office. Volunteers will continue to keep the hotline supporting survivors of sexual violence open.