Egypt’s hypocrisy: Cairo mediates peace talks but bars a rights group

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Two leaders of Human Rights Watch, a nonprofit that monitors civil liberties, were scheduled to address diplomats and journalists in Cairo last week, but they were barred by authorities from setting foot on Egyptian soil.

The apparent reason was the organization was about to detail a 188-page report outlining the systematic killing of more than 1,000 Egyptians who had protested the overthrow of former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in August 2013. The report, which grew out of a yearlong investigation by the group, said the deaths have been traced largely to local police and members of the Egyptian military, including former general and current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who was elected in March.

The mistreatment of the rights watch leaders is an affront to humanitarian efforts the world over. In conducting research on and advocacy for human rights, the NGO has denounced political corruption, torture, using children in the military and social and gender discrimination.

Of greater concern is the hypocrisy in the Cairo government’s attempt to shirk responsibility for its crimes. For nearly a month, Mr. el-Sissi has tried to mediate negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian forces, condemning the conflict that has claimed nearly 2,000 lives to date.

But Egypt cannot broker a humanitarian cease-fire with any semblance of authority while refusing to answer for its own abuses. As Iraq, Syria, Libya and Ukraine are ravaged by warfare, it falls upon the leaders of free societies to exemplify the principles of political accountability, freedom from censorship and a right to life — and pressure nations such as Egypt to follow suit.

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