News / USA

US Pro-Democracy Groups Under Fire for Work in Egypt

In this Thursday, December 29, 2011 file photo, workers from one of the US non-governmental organizations, the National Democratic Institute, wait as Egyptian officials raid their office in Cairo.
In this Thursday, December 29, 2011 file photo, workers from one of the US non-governmental organizations, the National Democratic Institute, wait as Egyptian officials raid their office in Cairo.
Chris Simkins

Several U.S. aid organizations are facing criminal charges in Egypt for allegedly inciting pro-democracy protests against the country's military rulers.  Egyptian prosecutors say they will try dozens of non-governmental organization workers, including 19 Americans in connection with the criminal investigation.

Tensions between the United States and Egypt are growing over accusations U.S. based pro-democracy groups are using foreign funds to encourage protests against Egypt's military leaders.  The controversy escalated after an Egyptian Cabinet minister accused Washington of intentionally seeking to create chaos to prevent the country from prospering.

The U.S.-based non-profit organizations deny the allegations.  They maintain they have complied with Egyptian laws and avoid favoring any particular political party.  

In December, Egyptian security forces raided the offices of 17 nonprofit groups that receive foreign funding, seizing documents and computers.  The action has outraged the Obama administration, which has threatened to cut off more than $1 billion in aid to Egypt if the issue is not resolved.

Egyptian authorities should not restrict the work of non-governmental organizations, says the U.S. State Department's top human rights official, Michael Posner.

"I very much view the situation of the four American organizations as part of the broader discussion about the role of NGO's [non-governmental organizations] in this society," he said. "There are international NGO's like those four and there are local Egyptian organizations.  All the groups need to have the ability to operate openly, freely without constrain on the basis of the content of their work."

Four of the nonprofit organizations are based in Washington and receive some U.S. government funding.  

The pro-democracy groups such as the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute are working in Egypt and in dozens of other countries.  The groups focus mostly on educating political parties on developing platforms, teaching civic groups on how to promote their causes and training election monitors.

Michele Dunne, an expert on Egypt at the research institution Atlantic Council in Washington, says there needs to be a new understanding between the United States and Egypt about the issue.

"There needs to be a recognition that a robust and free civil society is just as important to the democratization process as are free elections," said Dunne. "These kinds of NGO's are trying to do the work in Egypt that they do all over the world.  There is nothing unusual or suspicious about the work that either the American of Egyptian NGO's are doing."

During the past 30 years, the United States has funded pro-democracy groups that work in countries like Russia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela.  But analysts say non-governmental workers on some occasions have been harassed or met with suspicion of having an agenda in other countries affairs.  

A fellow at Washington's Institute for Near East Policy, Eric Trager, says Egyptian state media need to stop putting out false statements about the work of pro-democracy groups in the country.

"The state run [Egyptian] press has been very aggressive in going after these NGO's and portraying them as American pawns," said Trager.

As the standoff between Cario and Washington continues, human-rights advocates say they hope the pending criminal charges against pro-democracy groups in Egypt will be dropped.  They maintain the aid organizations were simply training people to take part in the election the country's military rulers wanted to hold.  

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid