Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Amnesty International Condemns Crackdown on Protesters in Egypt, Calling Police Response “Reckless”
Human Rights Organization Urges Restraint by Security Forces
Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]
(London) -- Amnesty International today condemned the crackdown on demonstrations in Egypt, calling the response by security forces “reckless.” The organization urged authorities to refrain from using excessive force amid continuing protests over poverty, police abuse and corruption.
Reports of ongoing demonstrations in Egypt today followed a day of protest in Cairo, Alexandria and other major cities that resulted in at least three deaths, rubber bullets and tear gas employed against crowds, beatings of detainees and at least 500 protesters arrested.
Amnesty International repeated its call for Egyptian authorities to refrain from using excessive force against demonstrators, and criticized the actions of security forces yesterday.
“We witnessed reckless policing yesterday with the security forces relying on tear gas and using rubber bullet as a first resort,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Program.
“Security forces must be held in check.”
The Ministry of Interior issued a warning that protests today will not be tolerated and those arrested will be prosecuted.
“We fear that the Ministry’s warning signals the authorities' readiness to unleash the full ferocity of the security forces with their track record of abuses,” said Sahraoui.
Demonstrations yesterday started peacefully but stone throwing and scuffles broke out when the security forces started forcibly dispersing demonstrators.
Three demonstrators were reportedly killed as well as one policeman in the largest demonstrations that Egypt has seen in decades.
Amnesty International has also received reports accusing the Egyptian authorities of blocking Twitter, and the video-sharing website Bambuser. The organization has also received reports that mobile phone networks were blocked in some areas. The organization was unable to reach a number of human rights activists on the phone.
Twitter and Bambuser have officially confirmed that they were blocked in Egypt yesterday.
“These blocks on communication show that the government is trying to stop the world from knowing what is happening in Egypt and to cut off demonstrators from each other.”
Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian authorities to investigate the killings of demonstrators and to hold those responsible accountable.
The Ministry of Interior announced today that 500 protesters have been arrested.
Amnesty International is concerned that some have been detained simply for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Others who may have been arrested on suspicion of violent acts must be charged with a recognizable criminal offense and tried in fair proceedings or otherwise released.
Undue restrictions and sweeping measures under the nearly 30 years of state of emergency have routinely been used by the Egyptian authorities to quash the legitimate exercise of the rights to peaceful protest and assembly.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 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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