Bahey el din Hassan – The founder of the Egyptian human rights movement

63-year-old Bahey el din Hassan is the co-founder and Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS). He is one of Egypt's leading human rights activists and helped found the Egyptian human rights movement in the 1980s.

Hassan fought against the human rights abuses by the Mubarak regime for more than 20 years. He also lectures and writes on human rights and democratic transformation in the Arab region.

Biography

Hassan studied chemistry and geology at the University of Cairo and later worked as a journalist, reporting on international affairs for an Egyptian daily newspaper.

In 1985, he was a founding member of the independent Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) and served as its Secretary General from 1988 to 1994.

Hassan co-founded the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) in 1993. The CIHRS is an independent NGO promoting human rights and democracy in the Arab region. It produces reports and analyses on human rights issues throughout the entire region and actively advocates for human rights in the Arab countries. It also cooperates with UN bodies through the CIHRS’s Geneva office.

Hassan is currently a member of other organizations, such as the Board of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation of Support to Human Rights Defenders (EMHRF) and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s steering committee for parliamentary strengthening in Egypt.

He received the Annual Journalism Award from the Egyptian Press Syndicate in 1987 and was honored by Human Rights Watch for his outstanding human rights work with the Annual Award of Human Rights Monitor in 1993.

Hassan’s daughter Manal is the wife of well-known Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah. The couple are both activists and considered to be Egypt’s pioneer bloggers. When her husband was arrested after the October 9 protests, Manal went to the streets to protest for his release, although she was due to give birth to their first child any moment.

Situation

Egypt was ruled by an autocratic, oppressive and corrupt regime for the last 30 years, until former President Mubarak was forced to step down on February 11, 2011. Laws were enforced by the violent Egyptian police and army, with harassment and torture of political detainees and their families a regular and common practice. Egyptian security forces would carry out torture and abuses with impunity; either no investigation took place following the crimes, or, if convicted, the guilty party would not face any meaningful penalties.

A parliamentary election to the People’s Assembly of Egypt was held from 28 November 2011 to 11 January 2012. The election was the first honest national election of any sort held in Egypt since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952. Mohamed Morsi is the fifth and current president of Egypt, having assumed office on 30 June 2012.

Achievements

Hassan has long been an advocate for human rights and helped found Egypt’s human rights movement by establishing the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR).

He continuously publishes articles about human rights issues in Egypt and the Arab world, although this has caused him to be politically isolated in his own country. His dedication to the fight for human rights, raising awareness, coordinating and mobilizing key players and NGOs across the region, and educating people through CIHRS workshops makes him an important figure within the human rights community, both in Egypt and abroad.

After declining the post of Deputy Interior Minister for Human Rights in July 2011, Hassan will continue defending human rights in his current position as Director of the CIHRS. Since Egypt’s revolution, he has been publicizing the human rights situation in Egypt and holding workshops on human rights and democracy.

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