Step up pressure on Egyptian regime, says TUC
In light of the dramatically deteriorating situation in Egypt, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has written to Foreign Secretary William Hague calling on the UK and the EU to urgently scale up the pressure on the Egyptian regime to halt the violence and begin a genuine transition to democracy.
3 February 2011
Egypt and Tunisia
Thank you for your letter of 20 January 2011 regarding the steps that the UK government is taking to encourage a peaceful and genuine democratic transition in Tunisia. I met with Baroness Ashton, the European Commission Vice President, today to discuss this and I now write requesting a real scaling up of the pressure on the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes in light of the dramatically deteriorating situations.
In Egypt, I am alarmed at the recent escalation of violence, which reports suggest the regime is stoking. For example, our Egyptian union colleagues have learned that the regime has been instructing government employees to join the violence against the peaceful protest movement, and dismissing those who refuse. The crack down on journalists and killing of protestors are completely unacceptable.
I welcome your calls for the Egyptian people to be able to freely exercise their right to peaceful assembly. Given this critical moment, we would like to see the British government and the EU put further pressure on the regime, including targeted actions such as freezing of the bank accounts of those promoting violence, the suspension of military assistance and an urgent review of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement.
I also want to briefly update you on the situation of trade unions in both countries. We have been heartened that the independent trade unions in Egypt - so long repressed by Mubarak - have just announced the formation of a new independent national trade union centre. Giving people a democratic vehicle to call for genuine democratic change and respect for human rights, is particularly vital in what is likely to be a volatile period ahead.
In Tunisia the situation is obviously still very fragile. Thank you for your positive words about our UGTT colleagues. I am attaching a copy of their most recent statement outlining their priorities for political reform which I encourage HMG to support. Their offices are subject to continued attacks by supporters of the former President, and anything you could to press the Tunisian government to ensure the safety of trade unionists would be appreciated.
Finally, the TUC is working with the international trade union movement and global civil society organisations such as Amnesty International to step up international pressure to secure peaceful transitions to democracy.
Issued: 4 February, 2011