On January 24, 2014, the eve of the anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, over 90 people gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the efforts of Egypt’s revolutionaries in generating real change in Egypt over the tumultuous three years since former-president Hosni Mubarak’s deposition. The TIMEP team introduced Washington policymakers, academics, and interested parties to the newly launched website, which features an interactive timeline and map of events since June of 2010 through July 2013.
Speaking to the effects of the revolution on Egypt in the past three years, and how TIMEP will engage with activists, policymakers, academics, and others to inform and interact in this important discussion on human rights and transitional justice, TIMEP’s Executive Director, Nancy Okail gave the opening remarks.
Three years on, the aspirations of Egyptians – and others in the region – may not have been achieved yet. So many lives were lost, others were unjustly prosecuted, and many are living under difficult and uncertain circumstances. But, one thing is certain: the people will never fall back into a state of silence and compliance…
If the past three years have taught us anything, it is that elections are neither an equivalent to genuine democracy nor could their results guarantee stability. Egyptians have gone to the polling stations six times in three years (the results of five of them were overturned), and the sixth vote on their third constitutional referendum occurred only last week. Throughout this entire period there was not a single week without protests or strikes; there is no clearer message than this to show that procedural democracy is no guarantee for stability, but that justice is.
It also discredits the claim that turning a blind eye to human rights violations could ever help achieve bigger national ambitions. Regardless of this evident lesson, no one should be treated as collateral damage on the road towards achieving a vital milestone, because there is no finer goal than justice for all.
Over the course of three years, three leaders (Mubarak, Tantawi, and Morsi) could not hold on to power in the face of dissent, no matter how hard they tried to control the public. Their failures are clear lessons to the coming leadership that repression does not guarantee stability.
Following Dr. Okail’s remarks, Ambassador William Taylor, spoke about TIMEP’s commitment to supporting voices around the region “that call out for restoration of the rule of law, the equality of all citizens, freedom of expression, freedom of the media…the kind of civil rights and human rights that motivated Egyptians during the exciting times in 2011 that we are now looking back on.”
Ambassador Taylor also highlighted the steps that Egypt is taking toward democracy, and brought up the nuances in the different sides of the narrative from activists, the government, and the opposition in Egypt. He used Tunisia as an example for a democracy that took its time to engage many different voices in not only government, but also civil society—including religious groups, secularists, and labor unions—through a long-term, inclusive national dialogue. He says, that one can look at Tunisia, and reflect that, “it can be done. It can be inclusive, it doesn’t have to be confrontational…[Tunisia] is really instructive.”
Following Ambassador Taylor’s keynote address, TIMEP research associate, Ryan Suto, gave a comprehensive presentation of all of the features of the new website.
The speeches concluded with Chairman of the Board of Advisors, Alex Shalaby, remarking on TIMEP’s bright future, and the hard work of the staff in facilitating the event.