Egypt military rulers must rein in security forces

News
November 21, 2011

Egypt military rulers must rein in security forces

Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) must urgently bring an end to the excessive use of force that has led to numerous deaths and injuries amid protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square since Saturday, Amnesty International said today.

Some two dozen people have reportedly been killed in violent clashes that erupted in Cairo and Alexandria since Saturday.

Hundreds have also been injured in the clashes as security forces appeared to fire buckshot and rubber bullets into crowds.

“This bloodshed over the weekend is utterly unacceptable. The violence yet again calls into question the orders given to security forces,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Acting Middle East and North Africa Director.

“We hold the SCAF responsible for the lives and the safety of demonstrators and voters in next week’s elections.”

“The violent policing seen over the weekend is reminiscent of the repression during the ‘25 January revolution’ and security forces relied on the same old patterns of abuse as under the three decades of Mubarak’s rule.”

“While the Egyptian authorities have a duty to maintain law and order, they must not use excessive force to crack down on peaceful protests, something that poses a severe threat to Egyptians’ rights to assembly and freedom of expression.”

On 22 November Amnesty International is releasing a new report, Broken Promises: Egypt's Military Rulers Erode Human Rights.

Released ahead of the start of elections on 28 November, the report analyses how official rhetoric has obscured the increasing suppression of people who dare to defy, question or criticize Egypt’s military rulers.

Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square over the weekend after riot police used force to disperse a sit-in organized by a group of people injured in the January uprising. The protesters had camped in the square last week to call for the SCAF to hand over power to civilian rule and to provide them with adequate reparations for their injuries.

In their attempt to regain control of Tahrir Square and surrounding streets, security forces beat protesters with sticks and used tear gas recklessly to disperse the crowds. Some protesters retaliated by hurling stones and, in some instances, Molotov cocktails. Some 120 people were arrested and referred to the public prosecution for investigation.

Bodies in the Cairo morgue reportedly showed head and chest wounds from live ammunition, including shotgun wounds. The public prosecution has ordered a forensic examination of the bodies.