Mahienour El-Massry: This Year´s Homo Homini Award LaureatePublished: Mar 1, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
Every year, People in Need (PIN) presents the Homo Homini Award to an individual or individuals who have contributed greatly to the promotion of human rights and democracy and nonviolent solutions to political conflicts. This year’s laureate is Mahienour El-Massry from Egypt.
Mahienour El-Massry (36) is an Egyptian human rights lawyer known for her activism and work to promote judicial independence and prisoners' rights by organising peaceful protests, raising awareness through social media, and organising support for political prisoners in the form of solidarity events and fundraising bail for prisoners. She has supported and defended prisoners even when she was imprisoned herself.
Mahienour's activism includes a broad scale of human rights work. She has been a tireless activist for victim’s of political violence, and her solidarity has often served to raise protestors’ morale. She has spent long nights guarding Syrian refugees in police stations to ensure they are not tortured or deported; worked to locate missing people lost in the country’s security labyrinth; and defended those protested during Egypt’s uprising 12 years ago.
- Profession: lawyer & human rights activist
- Key focus: active civil society and prisoners’ rights
- Persecution: Imprisoned 4 times for a total of more than 3,5 years between 2014 – 2021; released in July 2021
Subject to persecution
Mahienour has paid a high price for her activism. She’s been arrested and held in prolonged pre-trial detention over trumped-up charges of supporting a terrorist organization and disseminating false news. In 2014, she was charged with organising an unauthorized protest calling for accountability over the brutal torture and killing of Khaled Said, the icon of the Egyptian uprising, who was killed in police custody in 2010. For this activism, Mahienour was sentenced to two years, which was reduced to six months.
She was detained again in 2015 and sentenced to 15 months in prison. In 2017, she was imprisoned for participating in a demonstration over the sovereignty of island Tirand and Sanafer (sentence: two years, eventually acquitted). Finally, she was arrested in 2019 and released in July 2021, after spending nearly two years in prison.
Mahienour is a woman of great integrity. She supports unfairly treated or detained people regardless of their political or religious affiliation. She is one of the most prominent and visible human rights activists in Egypt. People in Need´s Executive Board virtually unanimously voted for her to become this year´s laureate.
Homo Homini past laureates
Since the 1994, People in Need has presented the Homo Homini Award to people and groups who have significantly contributed to the defence of human rights, democracy, and the nonviolent resolution of political conflicts. Past laureates include Russian politician Alexej Kovalev, Chinese literary critic and dissident Liu Xiaobo, Azerbaijani lawyer Intiqam Aliyev, and Nicaraguan farmer Francisca Ramírez. In 2020, the Homo Homini Award went to four detained members of the Belarusian human rights organization, Viasna, who remain imprisoned for tracking detained protestors, documenting human rights violations, and helping victims of police violence.