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UN Watch Briefing

Issue 403

Egyptian Dissident, Released from Prison, Begins Peacebuilding Mission to Israel Organized by UN Watch


Maikel Nabil in Israel

* Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012:Lecture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace, 12:00 pm.For details & to attend, click here.
Live Webcast:
(12 pm Israel time)

*Wednesday, January 2, 2013,Lecture at Tel Aviv University, 17:30
For details & to attend, click here

* Twitter: follow hashtag #maikelinisrael

Global campaign: Free Maikel Nabil

GENEVA, Dec. 22 - As reported this weekend by theNew York Times, Maikel Nabil, one of Egypt's most famous human rights dissidents and democracy bloggers—a former political prisoner who is also his country's most outspoken supporter of peace with Israel—has arrived in Jerusalem on a peace-building mission, where he will deliver university lectures, meet with leading public figures and peace activists, and visit the Palestinian territories.(See M. Nabil, "Why am I pro-Israel?")

Mr. Nabil's trip is organized by UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that works at the United Nations to promote universal human rights and Arab-Israeli peace. Founded in 1993, UN Watch is headed by Alfred H. Moses, a distinguished attorney who served under U.S. President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Romania and Special Presidential Emissary for the Cyprus Conflict.

"UN Watch is honored to facilitate Maikel's peace-building mission, which couldn't come at a more crucial time for the region," said executive director Hillel Neuer.

"After years of calling for peace," said Mr. Nabil, "I have realized that practicing peace is more important than talking. My visit is a message from the Egyptian peace community that we have had enough violence and confrontation and we want this to end."

Neuer called Mr. Nabil "a brave student who sacrificed his freedom—and almost his life—for the cause of democracy, tolerance and peace between Arabs and Israelis. He is a true hero who inspires hope around the world, a role model for young people who want to advance peace and human rights."

Mr. Nabilwas a key figure in Egypt's Tahrir Square revolution. He was convicted for the crime of "insulting the Egyptian army" and thrown into prison with a three-year sentence.

In jail, Mr. Nabil was subjected to beatings, torture and abuse. Ten months later, on January 24, 2012, after a "Free Maikel" Twitter campaign captured the support of millions worldwide, and after his 130-day hunger strike, Mr. Nabil was released.

In a Times of Israel article announcing his trip, Mr. Nabil highlighted his special relationship with UN Watch.

"UN Watch," he said, "the human rights organization based in Geneva, played a role in defending my freedom when I was imprisoned in Egypt last year for 10 months for defending human rights. Its director, Hillel Neuer, is known for his scathing attacks on dictatorships in the UN Human Rights Council. He is a very brave person, and a good friend."

UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer with Egyptian dissident Maikel Nabil, at UN Watch's Geneva Summit for Human Rights, March 2012.

UN Watchled a campaign of thirty human rights groups and actvists for Nabil's release, petitioning top UN officials and the Egyptian government, sparking wide coverage in the Egyptian and international press, including Le Monde.

Law professor and human rights advocate Irwin Cotler, a Canadian MP and board member of UN Watch, was Mr. Nabil's international legal counsel.

Shortly after his release, UN Watch brought Nabil to testify before the United Nations Human Rights Council, where he slammed Egypt's regime. Click here for video and text.

Nabil also headlined the 2012 Geneva Summit for Human Rights, organized by UN Watch with 20 other human rights NGOs. Click here for video.

“Today I visited Rabin's grave. My total respect to a leader who gave his life for us to live in Peace.”- Maikel Nabil, Egyptian dissident, Dec. 21, 2012. 

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