An Egyptian nominee for a top human rights prize has advocated violent uprisings against Israel and vowed that she will “fight to [her] death” and “achieve martyrdom” in Jerusalem, according to Twitter comments translated by a human rights watchdog group.
Mona Seif, an Egyptian activist, is a final nominee for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, a prestigious prize named after the former secretary-general of Amnesty International. She has also expressed support for anti-Israel violence.
“Palestine is my way, and I am full of determination and will. I will draw my blood in the West Bank, I will fight to my death in Gaza, I will support by people in Bethlehem and I will achieve martyrdom [shahada] in Jerusalem,” Seif wrote on Twitter on March 18, 2012.
Seif’s comments were translated by U.N. Watch, a Geneva-based organization that monitors human rights issues at the United Nations.
“A day will yet come when I will join the resistance and participate in the intifada. Palestine is my way, and I am full of determination and will. I will draw my blood in the West Bank; I will fight to my death in Gaza,” Seif wrote on March 22, 2012.
Seif is a vocal supporter of Palestinian “resistance.” She often writes on Twitter that “Palestine is at the heart of our revolution” and has called on the Egyptian government to expel Israel’s ambassador and “knock down the Camp David [Accords],” according to the U.N. Watch translations.
She also Tweeted a photo message that referred to Israeli soldiers as “Zionist Nazis” and has described Palestinian terrorist rocket attacks against Israel as “resistance of the nation under siege and fire,” according to U.N. Watch.
The Martin Ennals Award recipient is chosen by a jury of 10 prominent human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Human Rights First. The prize will be awarded next Tuesday.
U.N. Watch called on these groups to “cancel [their] organization’s nomination of Mona Seif for the world’s top human rights prize” in a letter this week.
“I understand that you are a supporter of Middle East peace,” wrote U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in the letter. “But Mona Seif seeks to violently destroy peace. Whatever good she may have done, I trust you will agree with me that it is wrong for you to celebrate this person as worthy of the world’s highest human rights prize. It sends a terrible message.”
A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch told the Washington Free Beacon that the group did not nominate Seif and does not take a position on Palestinian “resistance.”
“HRW staff nominated two human rights defenders, and one made it through as a finalist (not Mona Seif),” wrote HRW’s Emma Daly. “Re[garding] the tweets, HRW never takes a position on whether a country or rebel group should go to war or engage in ‘resistance.’ Our focus is on how wars are fought, and we oppose any deliberate or indiscriminate attacks on civilians.”
Human Rights First did not respond to request for comment.
Seif came under fire last April for a similar controversy, when she called terrorists who blew up Israeli gas pipelines in the Sinai “heroes.” She also criticized Amnesty International for calling on Palestinian terrorists to end attacks on civilians.
“[Y]ou don’t ask an occupied nation to stop their ‘Resistance’ to end violence!!! SHAME ON YOU!” she wrote on Twitter.
U.N. Watch called on human rights groups to oppose her nomination at the time for the Martin Ennals Award.
Seif defended her comments in response to the controversy in a Facebook post on May 2.
“I have never called for nor celebrated attacks on civilians,” wrote Seif. “My position is very clear: I support people’s right to resist occupation and I resist all attempts at portraying the siege of a predominantly civilian population by the world’s 4th most powerful army as one of ‘equivalence’”
“And ofcourse [sic] #FuckIsrael until there’s justice for the Palestinians,” she added.
HRW executive director Kenneth Roth defended Seif’s comments about Palestinian “resistance,” while noting that HRW has not taken a position on the issue.
“I haven’t seen anything indicating that by ‘resistance’ Mona means attacking civilians,” said Roth.