France has “participated in the bloody Egyptian repression” of the past five years by supplying the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi with weapons and surveillance equipment, a report by human rights groups claimed.
Commissioned by four French and Egyptian NGOs, the report found that French arms deliveries to Egypt jumped from €39.6 million in 2010 to €1.3 billion in 2016 despite the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council declaring in August 2013 that member states had to suspend export licences to Egypt of any equipment that could be used for domestic repression.
Since the July 2013 military coup led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has been in “the throes of a relentless crackdown” which has resulted in the incarceration of over 60,000 political prisoners, thousands of extra-judicial executions and disappearances and the systemic use of torture, the report warned.
The eight companies cited by the NGOs — including DCNS, SAGEM, Arquus, Airbus/Thales — sold such weapons as warships, fighter jets, armoured vehicles and missiles.
Furthermore, the report said that they also supplied “powerful digital tools” that are being used “to eradicate all forms of dissent and citizen action.”
“While the Egyptian revolution of 2011 was driven by an ultra-connected “Facebook generation” that knew how to mobilise crowds, today France is helping to crush this generation through the establishment of an Orwellian surveillance and control system aimed at nipping in the bud any expression of protest,” Bahey Eldin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies — one of the groups behind the report — said.
The four human rights groups – which also include the International Federation for Human Rights, the Human Rights League and the Armaments Observatory — have called for an immediate end of these exports and for the launch of a comprehensive review of the French system of exports of arms and surveillance equipment.
Euronews has reached out to the French government for comment.