Anti-coup bloc slams Egypt's Rabaa massacre report

Egypt's Interior Ministry has described a report by the country's human rights watchdog about the dispersal of a major protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in August as "neutral."

Anti-coup bloc slams Egypt's Rabaa massacre report

World Bulletin / News Desk

The anti-coup National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy on Wednesday called for forming an international fact-finding commission into the eviction of a protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, casting doubts on the findings of a government report on the event.

"The report is invalid and unacceptable," alliance spokesman Magdi Qorqor told Anadolu Agency.

He went on to call for the formation of a neutral international fact-finding commission into the eviction of a pro-Morsi sit-in in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in mid-August and for international trial of what he called the "coup leaders".

"This has become necessary after the production of an incorrect report about the events," Qorqor said.

On Wednesday, the state-run National Council for Human Rights announced the results of its long-awaited report on last August's bloody dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-in in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.

According to Nasser Amin, a council member who announced the council's findings, protesters had initiated the aggression against security forces shortly after the latter besieged the square and announced through loudspeakers that protesters could leave through certain "secure corridors."

Speaking at a press conference in Cairo Wednesday afternoon, Amin said the day-long operation had left 632 dead, mostly civilians caught in the crossfire between armed elements "planted among peaceful protesters" in the square and security forces.

He added that eight policemen had been among the casualties and denied that military forces had taken part in the dispersal, maintaining that they had only secured the "surrounding area."

According to Amin, clashes erupted shortly after security forces began asking protesters to leave through designated safe corridors, between 6am and 7am.

However, "fierce clashes" soon erupted after a police officer was shot and four soldiers injured by gunfire that emanated from inside the sit-in, Amin claimed.

Qorqor, however, said the report was made by an agency whose members were appointed by the "coup leaders" and that it just repeats "lies" propagated by pro-army media.

"It also contradicts all international reports that condemned the loss of protesters' lives," he added.

Meanwhile, the pro-Morsi "Lawyers against Coup" movement described the report as "part of propaganda" for army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Al-Sisi, who is seen as the main architect of Morsi's ouster last July, is widely expected to run in Egypt's upcoming presidential election.

Though he has not officially announced his bid to run for president, al-Sisi said on Tuesday that he "cannot turn his back" to the majority of people who want him to run for president.

The "Judicial Independence Against Coup" group described as a "crime" what it called the reluctance of Egypt's judiciary to investigate complaints by relatives of the Muslim Brotherhood victims against al-Sisi and police officials.

"The report is a mere political propaganda statement aiming to gloss over the crime committed by coup leader Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi," the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the head of the Cairo branch of al-Karama (Dignity) rights group Ahmed Mefreh said the report mainly depends on accounts of Egypt's policemen and ignored accounts of eyewitnesses.

"The report matches the information released by the Interior Ministry about the events," Mefreh told AA.

Interior Ministry describes Rabaa report as 'neutral'

Egypt's Interior Ministry has described  a report by the country's human rights watchdog about the dispersal of a major protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in August as "neutral".

"The report was neutral as it tackled several important issues, including the fact that protesters in the sit-in were armed," ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

"It also showed that Morsi's supporters had detained, tortured and killed some innocent citizens," he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Abdel-Latif said the report shows that policemen did not initiate the aggression on the protesters and that they only acted after the protesters killed a policeman.

He, however, added that the report was "inaccurate" in stating that policemen did not give the protesters enough time to leave the sit-in site peacefully.

"We had given the protesters two weeks since our first ultimatum was issued on August 1," he said.

Abdel-Latif said policemen confronted what he described as "terrorist elements" during the evacuation of the protest sites, which, according to him, led to the death of 62 policemen on August 14.

"We had also provided a safe corridor for innocent people to get out, but turmoil across Egypt at the time had its effect on the situation in general," Abdel-Latif said.

Rights watchdogs call for UNHRC action on Egypt

A group of prominent regional and international human rights organizations has called on the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to pressure Egypt's military-backed authorities over what it described as Egypt's "grave human rights situation."

The strong-worded letter, entitled "Silence isn't an option," was signed by 15 prominent human rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

"We're urging the UNHRC to consider alternative mechanisms to establish truth and accountability," Nicholas Piachaud of Amnesty International's North Africa team told Anadolu Agency.

In their joint statement, the 15 rights groups assert that "repression in the country has reached levels unprecedented" since the January 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.

The letter comes as Egyptian authorities face mounting pressure from international rights actors, who have decried Egypt's sweeping crackdown on dissent since last summer's ouster of Mohamed Morsi – Egypt's first freely elected president – by the army.

After issuing numerous individual reports on Egypt's deteriorating rights situation, the rights groups urged the UNHRC to issue a resolution condemning "in the strongest terms" such attacks on dissent.

It went on to assert that the crackdown had increased instability within the country, which has continued to grapple with political turmoil for over three years.

"The UNHRC was damned by its silence on Egypt when it last met in September," Piachaud said.

"In the last few months, we've seen spiraling repression," he added. "It's now time for [the UNHRC] to speak up."

Issued to coincide with the UNHRC's current March 3-28 session, the letter exhorts the UN's main human rights body to take action against "the repeated, excessive and indiscriminate use of force" by Egyptian security forces against demonstrators amid a "climate of impunity and restrictions on peaceful assembly and expression."

"Egyptian authorities care very much what the rest of the world thinks," Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and Africa division of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, told AA.

"They have mounted a strong campaign to persuade HRC member states not to speak about the human rights crisis there," he said.

"We think that's a very good reason to urge those member states to speak out," he added.

Human Rights Watch labeled the killing of hundreds of anti-coup protesters in the Rabaa al-Adawiyya square in August the "worst unlawful mass killing in Egypt's modern history."

"Egypt has a dismal track-record on delivering accountability," Piachaud told AA. "We've documented years of delivering botched investigations that have buried the truth about human rights violations and denied Egyptians the right to justice and reparation."

"That's why," he added, "we're calling on the Egyptian authorities to give the UNHRC regular updates on the state of investigations."

Moreover, the 15 rights groups called on the UN body to "remind the Egyptian government of its duty to protect citizens."

Several UN officials, including UNHRC chief Navi Pillay, had previously voiced concern over the deteriorating state of human rights in Egypt.

For their part, Egyptian authorities have continued to dismiss such claims, insisting that they are fighting a "war on terror." They cite a recent string of deadly bombings that have mainly targeted security officials and property.

Last Mod: 06 Mart 2014, 09:47
Add Comment