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The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights

In Defense of the Professional Syndicates

26 May 1998

The conclusions of a workshop on
"Sequestration: its negative impacts on the role of professional

On Monday 25 May 1998, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR)
held a workshop on "Sequestration: its negative impacts on the professional
syndicates."  The workshop was held in the context of a dialogue started by
the organization on 21 April 1998 on the creation of democratic mechanisms
that might help in solving the crisis faced by the professional syndicates
in Egypt.  This crisis has been manifested in putting under sequestration
two of the oldest and biggest syndicates in Egypt: The Lawyers Syndicate
and the Engineers Syndicate, and in aggravating the work of syndicates in
Egypt in general.  

The workshop was directed by Abdel-Aziz Mohammed, Vice-Chair of the EOHR,
and was attended by a big number of syndicates' representatives and human
rights activists.  The attendants criticized the fierce attack organized
against the professional syndicates, which started by passing Law 100 of
1993, amended by Law 5 of 1995 which hampered the movement of the
syndicates and allowed putting them under sequestration.

The attendants believe that putting syndicates under sequestration is an
undemocratic measure and an attack by the state on the most important civil
society institutions.  It, moreover, harms the interests of hundreds of
thousands of professionals in Egypt, and is a retraction from the
democratic tradition established by the Egyptian professional syndicates.

In this context, the attendants discussed the draft document for the
founding of a committee for the defense of the independence of the
professional syndicates, to be formed under the slogan: "For free
syndicates for all professions".  The committee will work towards the
realization of the following:

1.	To defend the right of all syndicate members, from all trends and
political belongings, to be democratically represented
2.	To stop monopolizing the boards of syndicates by one political trend  
3.	To stop using syndicates as places to settle political disputes 
4.	To set a specific date to hold fair elections for syndicates' boards to
be responsible to draft a law on syndicates, after referring to their
general assemblies
5.	To disclose the practices of those assigned to implement the
sequestration of the professional syndicates, and explaining the
seriousness of the decisions they make.
6.	To help the syndicates to continue the national role they are entitled
to play 
7.	To call for the revocation of Law 100 of 1993 and its amendments issued
by law 5 of 1995, and to go back to the previous legal provisions in this
regard. Syndicates' general assemblies shall draft a new law that expresses
their will. 

The workshop concluded that the said committee must be made of
professionals from different fields of work and must represent various
ideological trends and political belongings.  This committee shall perform
its task by the use of peaceful and democratic means.  To facilitate the
creation of such a committee, a coordinating committee made of the
following names was established: 

Abdel-Aziz Mohammed, Ahmed Bahaa Al-Din Shaaban, Abdel-Aziz Al-Hussieni,
Khalil Rashaad, 
Essam Al-Islamboli, coordinator of the committee, Dr. Abdel-Fattah Shawki,
Adel Al-Mashad,
Dr. Magdi Karkar, Yehyya Kallash, Dr. Ahmed Omar.	

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