Egypt: Amnesty International Calls on Egyptian VP To Stop Violence

Press Release
February 3, 2011

Egypt: Amnesty International Calls on Egyptian VP To Stop Violence

Amnesty International Calls on Egyptian Vice President to Stop Violence, Saying Lack of Policing is a “Total Abdication of Responsibility”

Organization’s Own Staff Members Are Detained in Crackdown on Activists and Journalists

Thursday, February 3, 2011

(London) – With a renewed crackdown on activists and journalists, Amnesty International today called on Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman to stop the violence unleashed by pro-government supporters in Cairo and across the country, calling it “a total abdication of responsibility.” Two Amnesty International representatives were detained with other activists after a military police raid on a leading human rights center.

Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, demanded the immediate release of the Amnesty International representatives, who were detained after the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre was taken over by military police Thursday morning. Their names were withheld by the organization.

“We call for the immediate and safe release of our colleagues who should be able to monitor the human rights situation in Egypt at this crucial time without fear of harassment or detention,” said Shetty.

"The Egyptian authorities must ensure that protesters, journalists and human rights activists are protected,” said Shetty. “The lack of police on the ground responding to the violence is a blatant sign of the complicity of the Egyptian government in the violence, or at best the total abdication of responsibility for law and order at a moment of national crisis”

“Peaceful demonstrations must be allowed, whatever the views expressed, and peaceful demonstrators must be protected, regardless of any political negotiations taking place."

In the United States, the organization sought a meeting with the Egyptian ambassador in Washington and mobilized U.S. activists to call the Egyptian embassy demanding the release of the organization’s staff members.

The organization also called on other states to use their influence to urge the Egyptian authorities to rein in their supporters.

"Vice President Suleiman has been appointed to handle the current crisis. As such he must show true leadership now by responding to the organized violence that we are seeing on the streets," said Shetty.

"He must act if his stated commitment to reform is to have any credibility, at home and abroad.

"At the same time it is incumbent on countries with close ties to Egypt to exert influence on the Egyptian authorities to stop the violence.

"They need to make clear that the failure to protect peaceful demonstrators from violence, arbitrary arrest and other violations will severely damage Egypt's relationship with these countries."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org