In a new report, the London-based group said that many young activists were among thousands arbitrarily detained over the past two years in connection to protests.
“By relentlessly targeting Egypt’s youth activists, the authorities are crushing an entire generation’s hopes for a brighter future,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.
The rights group said that young activists were seen as a “beacon of hope” following the 2011 uprising that unseated autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.
“Yet, today, many of these young activists are languishing behind bars, providing every indication that Egypt has regressed into a state of all-out repression,” it said.
In late 2013, Egyptian authorities enacted a law that requires protesters to seek permit from the Interior Ministry before staging protests.
“The Protest Law has become a fast-track to prison for peaceful demonstrators, who are being treated like criminals. It must be scrapped immediately,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Amnesty claimed that 41,000 people are languishing behind bars, according to estimates by Egyptian human rights activists.
“The scale of the crackdown is overwhelming. The Egyptian authorities’ have shown that they will stop at nothing in their attempts to crush all challenges to their authority,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui. “Those behind bars range from internationally lauded youth movement leaders, to human rights defenders, to students arrested for wearing T-shirts with anti-torture slogans.”
But Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati described Amnesty’s allegations as “mere lies.”
Abdel-Ati said in a statement that the report was made by “an organization that lacks credibility.”
“Amnesty and similar organizations only seek to tarnish Egypt’s image with a view to achieving their malicious goals, including harming the country’s security and stability,” he said.
Amnesty’s report was released on the second anniversary of protests that led to the military staging a coup against elected President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, 2013.
The report also came one day after a deadly car bombing that killed prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat.
Egypt has been dogged by instability ever since Morsi’s overthrow, with authorities waging a ruthless crackdown on dissent.
The crackdown, which has mainly targeted the ousted president’s supporters, has left hundreds dead and thousands behind bars.