World Bulletin / News Desk
The Muslim Brotherhood said Tuesday that it would push for legal action against the Egyptian authorities at the International Criminal Court (ICC) following the release of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that accuses the government of carrying out the "premeditated" murder of hundreds of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi last summer.
"The [HRW] report will make our job much easier," Mohamed Soudan, leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Brotherhood's political wing, told Anadolu Agency by phone from London.
"Now we have an international legal basis before the United Nations, which has the right to file a lawsuit before the ICC based on the HRW report," Soudan, who is currently based in London, added.
The ICC recently turned down a case request lodged by the FJP, which was once headed by Morsi, against Egypt's interim authorities.
While the party accused authorities of committing "grave crimes" in Egypt since Morsi's ouster by the military last summer, the court said it had no jurisdiction to rule on the case because the plaintiff did not represent the Egyptian government, according to a court statement.
"We provided assistance to HRW researchers for their report and will continue to push for a case before the the ICC – sponsored by the U.N. – as soon as possible," Soudan said.
HRW, a prominent New York-based watchdog, has called for a U.N. inquiry into what it has described as the "massacre" by Egyptian security forces of at least 1150 pro-Morsi demonstrators – including at least 817 in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adiwiya Square alone – saying the killings likely constituted crimes against humanity.
Speaking at a press conference held to unveil the report on the one-year anniversary of the bloody Rabaa dispersal, HRW Middle East Director Sarah Leah Whitson called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to investigate the role of several top government officials, including then-defense minister – and current president – Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, in the "premeditated" killings.
The Brotherhood's London office said in a Tuesday statement that the HRW report "provided damning evidence showing that senior members of Egypt's post-coup government committed crimes against humanity." It added that the report's findings corroborated legal complaints filed earlier by the Brotherhood against Egypt's military-backed authorities.
"Lawyers acting on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom & Justice Party confirm that they will refer this report to the police and international courts in support of their legal cases against those responsible for these international crimes," the group said.
For his part, Judge Walid al-Sharabi, a member of the recently formed Egyptian Revolutionary Council, said there was a "possibility" that a case could be filed by the United Nations at the ICC in light of the new HRW report.
"The report embarrasses democratic member states of the United Nations Security Council because if they don't act, they will be accused of having double standards," al-Sharabi told AA.
REPRESSION OF FREEDOMS
HRW spokesman Philippe Dam said the rights group on Wednesday would begin sending the Rabaa report to diplomats serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand that action be taken ahead of the U.N.'s annual general assembly, slated for September 27.
"The move is also aimed at voicing condemnation of the continued repression of freedoms in Egypt," Dam added.
The Egyptian government on Tuesday criticized the HRW report as "biased," accusing the organization of "willfully ignoring" the government's version of events.
HRW says it interviewed more than 200 witnesses, including protesters, doctors, local residents and independent journalists; visited each of the protest sites during or immediately after the violence; and reviewed physical evidence, video footage and relevant statements by public officials.
It also says it had written to relevant Egyptian government ministries in an effort to hear their account of events, but received no response.
The rights group further confirmed in its report that some pro-Morsi demonstrators had used firearms in a few cases, but added that this did "not justify the grossly disproportionate and premeditated lethal attacks on overwhelmingly peaceful protesters."
A representative of Human Rights Watch (HRW) has dismissed accusations of bias by the Egyptian government following the release of a comprehensive report condemning what it described as the "massacre" of hundreds of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi at a protest encampment last summer in Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
"The Egyptian government uses the same claim every time it doesn't agree with the content of a report," Omar Shakir, a HRW researcher who took part in drafting the report over the past year, told Anadolu Agency by phone from Beirut on Tuesday.
"Basically, not agreeing with the Egyptian government means you're biased," Shakir added.
"We had to protect our witnesses because the government summarily labeled [Morsi's] Muslim Brotherhood group a terrorist organization and brutally cracked down on any that are pros to it," Shakir said.
He asserted that HRW researchers wrote to the interior ministry three times over the past year asking for details on the killing of security personnel during the dispersal, but received no response.
"If we had received that information it would have helped us investigate a deeper level of detail," Shakir said.
"Our report has an entire section on abuses by some opponents but those abuses pale in comparison to state-sanctioned slaughter," Shakir said.
HRW stated in its report that Egyptian authorities had failed to hold even a single low-level policeman or army officer accountable for any of the violence – let alone the officials responsible for ordering it – and continued to brutally suppress dissent.
It further said it has identified more than a dozen of the most senior leaders in the Egyptian chain of command who should be investigated for their roles in the killings, including President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who led the army last year to depose elected Morsi.
The government, however, accused HRW of harboring "subjective tendencies" towards Egyptian authorities.
"It's easier to dismiss the messenger than deal with the allegations," Shakir said.
HRW closed its office in Cairo several months ago, citing "extensive restrictions on civil society organizations" by Egypt's military-backed government since Morsi's ouster.
Shakir asserted that HRW has been trying to obtain official license to operate in Egypt for the past several years but its request "has been kept in the gray" by authorities.
The government said on Tuesday that interviews with witnesses conducted by HRW in Egypt for the report without possessing a legal permit to work in the country comprises a "blatant violation of international law's principle of state sovereignty."
Shakir, for his part, derided the government's claim. "I have never heard of an international legal principle that says you can't go to a country and do work," Shakir said.
"I wish the government showed more concern over international legal principle of freedom of association and assembly," he added.
Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, was removed from office by the army – and subsequently imprisoned – in July of last year following massive opposition protests against his one year in power.
Al-Sisi, widely seen as the chief orchestrator of Morsi's ouster, was announced the winner of Egypt's presidential election conducted in May.Last Mod: 13 Ağustos 2014, 10:01