Highlighting the human cost of unjust detention and other forms of repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia 

March 20, 2023 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Freedom Initiative launched Reunite Families, a new campaign highlighting the human cost of unjust detention and other forms of state repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The campaign, which coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, urges supporters to join the fight to reunite families torn apart by repression.  

Unjust detention, unlawful travel bans and transnational repression are life-shattering for families treasured holidays like Ramadan serve as a bleak reminder of their loved one’s absence and the state’s relentless cruelty, said Andrea Prasow, executive director of the Freedom Initiative. “At a time when families should be gathering together, tens of thousands are separated from their loved ones in exile, wrongfully imprisoned or trapped under unlawful travel bans in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, unsure of when or if they will ever reunite with their loved ones.    

The Freedom Initiative is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that advocates for political prisoners in the Middle East and North Africa by working directly with detainees and their families, pushing for U.S policies that protect human rights, and holding abusers to account. 

In Egypt, an estimated 60,000 political prisoners are languishing behind bars, having been torn away from their families. In Saudi Arabia, human rights defenders, government critics, journalists and others are also unjustly detained in harsh prison conditions. Others are trapped under arbitrary travel bans in both countries and separated from loved ones abroad. 

Both countries are also increasingly turning to transnational repression, or the targeting of individuals across borders, to silence dissent. During the campaign, the Freedom Initiative will also launch a new report that reveals the extent to which Egypt and Saudi Arabia both U.S. allies are engaging in transnational repression on U.S. soil. 

Supporters and human rights advocates are invited to join the campaign by posting on social media using the hashtag #ReuniteFamiliesand donating to support the Freedom Initiative’s work. On April 5, the United Nations’ International Day of Conscience, supporters are also asked to share video messages in solidarity with families and loved ones torn apart by wrongful detention in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.     

“Now more than ever, we are committed to doing everything we can to reunite those who have been separated from their families due to the repressive regimes in Egypt and Saudi Arabia,” said Laura Rheintgen, development director at the Freedom Initiative. “Our work depends on the support of human rights advocates, and we hope more people decide to join our fight.”  

Visit the campaign website for more information and updates on the campaign and follow us @thefreedomi on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

For more information or to set up an interview, contact kristen@thefreedomi.org.