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Tim Kaine joins bipartisan letter condemning Egyptian jailings

kaine new2In a letter sent to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi today, U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jon Tester (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jim Risch (R-ID), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) expressed grave concern about the June 4, 2013 decision by an Egyptian court to sentence 43 Egyptian and international employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) –  including 16 Americans – to jail.

In the letter, the 14 senators called on President Morsi to immediately address their concerns and allow the organizations to carry out their work in Egypt. The senators all believe that this verdict loudly reinforces the perception that Egypt is not a good place for the international community, including the business community, to do business.

“The United States-Egypt relationship is a strategic and important one, and we value our bilateral security cooperation as an anchor of regional stability,” the senators wrote.  “At the same time, this court decision is likely to stifle the basic human rights of the Egyptian people and undermine the progress that Egypt has made in the last two years.”

The senators also argued that the “continued political persecution of those criticizing the Egyptian government, the introduction of a deeply flawed draft civil society law, and other attempts to limit freedom of assembly and freedom of religion,” does not reflect U.S. interests or values.  The convicted employees work for some of the most respected international organizations in the world, consistent with international norms and standards.

In closing, the senators wrote, “we urge your government to immediately address our grave concerns over the verdict against all 43 NGO workers, return all property that was confiscated in December 2011, and allow these organizations to carry out their work in Egypt without fear of further interference or reprisals.”  

Full text of the letter is below:

 

Dear President Morsi,

We write to express our deep concern about the June 4th decision by an Egyptian court to sentence 43 Egyptian and international employees of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including 16 Americans, to jail sentences.  This verdict raises concerns about how the United States and the international community can continue to assist Egypt with its transition to democracy.

The United States-Egypt relationship is a strategic and important one, and we value our bilateral security cooperation as an anchor of regional stability.  At the same time, this court decision is likely to stifle the basic human rights of the Egyptian people and undermine the progress that Egypt has made in the last two years.  A decision like this will hurt foreign direct investment in Egypt, and discourages the inflow of private sector dollars that Egypt desperately needs for a healthy economic recovery.  This court decision loudly reinforces the perception that Egypt is not a good place to do business.

There are efforts underway in Congress to examine the future of the United States-Egypt relationship.  These efforts respond to growing concerns among the American people about the direction the Egyptian Government is going, and we seek to ensure that U.S. assistance to Egypt reflects American values and interests, and supports the aspirations of the Egyptian people to build a more open and fair society.  Regrettably, the continued political persecution of those criticizing the Egyptian government, the introduction of a deeply flawed draft civil society law, and other attempts to limit freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are inconsistent with these principles.

We believe the employees in this case, who work for some of the most respected international organizations in the world, should be able to support the growth of Egyptian civil society consistent with international norms and standards.  We urge your government to immediately address our grave concerns over the verdict against all 43 NGO workers, return all property that was confiscated in December 2011, and allow these organizations to carry out their work in Egypt without fear of further interference or reprisals.

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