The El Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture could become the next in a series of NGOs that have seen their closure in recent years.
El Nadeem Director Aida Seif El-Dawla confirmed on Wednesday a Reuters report, moreover telling Daily News Egypt that security officials came upon an order from the Health Ministry and the Azbakiya district, and were prepared to shut down the office for purported violations.
“Were it not for the fact that the centre’s lawyer, Taher Aboul Nasr, was there, they would have sealed the place off,” Seif El-Dawla said.
“However, he negotiated with them and got them to postpone the closure for another week,” she continued, noting that the officials who arrived at the office were unable to specify the violations that prompted the health ministry’s order.
In the meantime, she noted that they would approach the health ministry and attempt to rectify their status with regards to said violations, once they were informed of them.
“This is about the crackdown on every [dissenting voice],” Seif El-Dawla said, highlighting the arrest of journalist Hisham Gaafar, the closure of the Townhouse Gallery and the travel ban imposed on Gamal Eid as examples.
“An official, I can’t remember which, recently said ‘we will not let them breathe’. They are simply executing this.”
She further noted that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the centre’s activities that she believed may have prompted such action.
A number of NGOs and civil society organisations have suffered under a widening crackdown, particularly following amendments to a 2002 bill governing the operations of such organisations.
The law prohibits NGOs from receiving foreign funding without pronounced permission from the Ministry of Social Solidarity. The law prompted the closure of a number of organisations, including the Culture Resource. Further, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies moved its main office to Tunisia.
Moreover, over 300 NGOs and charity organisations have been shut down down due to alleged Muslim Brotherhood connections.
Amnesty International condemned the move to shut down El Nadeem. Said Boumedouha, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme, referred to the centre as a “lifeline to hundreds of victims of torture and the families of people who have been subjected to enforced disappearance”.