Biden to raise human rights in Egypt, Cambodia: US officials

Biden to raise human rights in Egypt, Cambodia: US officials
2 min read
09 November, 2022
Joe Biden plans to bring up human rights issues when he travels to Egypt for the COP27 climate summit and Cambodia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
Joe Biden plans to raise human rights issues with the governments of Egypt and Cambodia [Getty/file photo]

US President Joe Biden plans to discuss human rights in Egypt, where he will travel for a climate conference, and in Cambodia, where he will attend a meeting of southeast Asian nations, senior administration officials said Tuesday.

Biden will have a bilateral meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Friday during his short stopover to attend the COP27 summit, and he "will never shy away from raising human rights with foreign leaders," an official told journalists.

The White House remains concerned about the case of jailed dissident Alaa Abdel Fattah "and the reported condition of his health, and we have raised repeated concerns about his case and his conditions in detention with the Government of Egypt," the official said.

A key figure of the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Abdel Fattah was arrested in late 2019 and sentenced to five years in prison.

Abdel Fattah, who gained British citizenship this year through his UK-born mother, escalated his hunger strike by refusing water as well as food as COP27 opened.

"We have and will continue to urge the Egyptian government to release political prisoners," the official added, referring to the more than 60,000 people whom NGOs estimate are detained in the country.

The official did not however specify if Biden would directly call for Abdel Fattah's release.

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The issues of democracy and human rights will also be on the agenda in the US president's bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

"You can anticipate that the president will raise our views on the importance of supporting the aspirations of the Cambodian people for a prosperous, democratic, independent country and the importance of respect for human rights, including... our concern about some specific cases," another senior official said, without elaborating on the cases in question.

The Cambodian premier, a former Khmer Rouge fighter, is one of the world's longest-serving leaders.

Since 2018 parliamentary elections in which Hun Sen's party won all seats in parliament, the regime has increased the number of arrests of dissidents.

One such person is lawyer Theary Seng, who also holds American citizenship and who has begun a hunger strike to protest the conditions of her detention.