Two secular activists resign from National Council for Human Rights

Two secular human rights activists have resigned from the National Council for Human Rights to express their opposition to President Mohamed Morsy’s decision to put the recently drafted constitution to a public referendum.

Leftist activist Wael Khalil and rights activist Ahmed Seif al-Islam described the constitutional declaration as “catastrophic,” and added that staying on the council was impossible, as the president himself and other institutions controlled by his party were committing violations.

In their resignations, the two activists added that the constitution does not meet Egyptians’ aspirations and regresses on previous drafts, citing the document’s failure to prohibit military trials for civilians as an example. They added that the constitution limits the number of Supreme Constitutional Court judges as a means to remove some of them.

The two activists’ resignations are yet another blow to Morsy, this time from secular figures previously close to him.

Morsy has called a nationwide referendum on the draft constitution on 15 December, despite controversy over it and its writing process, as well as the withdrawal of large numbers of Constituent Assembly members representing broad swaths of Egyptian society.

Most courts have suspended their work in opposition to both the constitution and the constitutional declaration.

Khalil and Seif al-Islam added that they accepted membership on the council only as a gesture of support for the country’s first democratically elected civilian president.

The two activists further expressed fears for the fate of freedom of opinion, creed and thought, as well as the rights of women and minorities, as the Brotherhood tightens its grip on the levers of power.

They also described their experience on the council as frustrating on both a societal and institutional level, adding that all fears they had about serving on the council had come true.

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