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Rights groups slam Trump meeting with Egypt's 'brutal' leader

Activists staged a silent protest in Washington against the meeting [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 April, 2017

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Rights groups have slammed US President Donald Trump ahead of a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose regime has killed and imprisoned thousands of people.

Rights groups have slammed US President Donald Trump ahead of a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose regime has killed and imprisoned thousands of people.

Sisi left Cairo on Saturday for Washington where he is set to meet with Trump on Monday – the event will mark Sisi's first state visit to the US since becoming president in 2014.

Read also: Sisi and Trump: Brotherhood on the agenda

Dozens of activists staged a silent protest near the Washington Monument against the meeting.

"Inviting Sisi for an official visit to Washington as tens of thousands of Egyptians rot in jail and when torture is again the order of the day is a strange way to build a stable strategic relationship," said Sarah Margon, Washington director at Human Rights Watch.

"Giving more money to the Sisi government is to the detriment of US and Egyptian interests," Margon said.

"Neither side in this relationship seems interested in promoting human rights, but the gross abuses being committed by Egyptian authorities should compel Congress to keep limiting support," she added.

According to official statements put out by the US and Egyptian governments, Sisi's visit is aimed at strengthening economic and trade relations between the two states, and increasing US investment into Egypt.

Their meeting Monday will give valuable insight on how the Trump White House plans to address the issue of human rights.

Inviting Sisi for an official visit to Washington as tens of thousands of Egyptians rot in jail and when torture is again the order of the day is a strange way to build a stable strategic relationship

A senior administration official said in a briefing that the topic will be handled in a "private, more discreet way."

Amnesty International called on Trump to hold Sisi for human rights abuses in Egypt.

"Trump has the opportunity to hold Egypt's government to account for its brutal human rights crackdown, including mass arbitrary arrests and killings of dissidents, enforced disappearances, and blatantly unfair trials," Sunjeev Bery, Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, said.

"The Trump administration cannot turn a blind eye to Egypt's human rights crisis. In Monday's meeting, President Trump must make clear that the extent of diplomatic relations with the US depends on Egypt’s willingness to address its human rights abuses," Bery added.

Meanwhile, ahead of the meeting between the heads of state, anti-Sisi campaigners have put up posters on the streets of Washington DC aimed at drawing attention to the thousands of political prisoners currently incarcerated in Egyptian jails.

Online, the campaign – organised by Mohamed Soltan, the son of jailed figure Salah Soltan – is trending under the hashtag #FreedomFirst.

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