Azza Soliman, women human rights defender, lawyer and a member of the Executive Committee of our Coalition, is facing a smear campaign aimed at demonizing her and minimizing her work and its impact on victims, survivors, WHRDs and women in Egypt and the region.
We acknowledge that our colleague Azza Soliman is risking her safety and freedom on a daily basis in order to defend survivors of violations in Egypt. She has worked courageously and tirelessly to defend the rights of victims of torture, arbitrary detention and all forms of violence. She co-founded the Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance and today she chairs its board of trustees. She has been defending human rights for more than 25 years. Despite the travel ban and the freezing of her money and the targeting, Azza Soliman continues her work; she continues to show us the path everyday.
This is not the first time in which Azza Soliman is targeted because of her work, as she was exposed to previous defamation campaigns and was also banned from traveling and was included in Case 173, a case that mainly targets women human rights defenders. WHRD Azza was also subjected to interrogation and investigation, and her assets were frozen in order to isolate her from her colleagues in Egypt and the region with the aim of cutting off her profound impact on human rights defense movements. Yet she stands firm and patient, believing in believing and protecting women.
The Regional Coalition of WHRDs in MENA sees defamation as a patriarchal tool that seeks to obstruct, stigmatize and isolate WHRDs from each other, with the aim of legitimizing violations against them, with the framework of “disciplining them”. Accordingly, the Regional Coalition expresses its concerns over the recent smear campaign against Azza Soliman, especially since she is one of the WHRDs who has done much to the Egyptian, regional and international community, and the defamation she is subjected to is a punishment for believing the survivors, for her support of women and her insistence on fighting violence The smear campaign also affects survivors and victims whom lawyer Azza Soliman works with in order to intimidate them too, yet they are not afraid.
This defamation campaign has multiple risks, ranging from demonizing WHRDs to silencing the voices of survivors. Therefore, the Regional Coalition is in solidarity with WHRD Azza Soliman and reminds everyone of her history of fighting for human rights and her current work to build a state of justice and law. The WHRDs in our region, headed by our colleague Azza Soliman, are a beacon of light in our struggle against violence, and constitute a clear and unmistakable voice: We do not fear your smearing, fear our justice.