(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Evidence that the Egyptian security forces have once again used unwarranted live fire and other excessive force underlines the crucial need for police reform, said Amnesty International after 90 people were killed over the course of a weekend of violence.
Security forces used live rounds and tear gas to disperse supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi during demonstrations on Saturday, leaving 80 people dead. An additional 10 people were killed by gunfire during clashes in Alexandria.
“The latest bloodshed should serve as a wake-up call to the Egyptian authorities over the urgency of police reform,” said Philip Luther, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program.
Although the Interior Ministry denied using live ammunition to disperse protests on July 27, testimonies from injured protesters and eyewitnesses, as well as medical and video evidence collected and examined by Amnesty International, casts serious doubts on the Ministry of Interior’s version of events.
The Zeinhoum morgue in Cairo received 80 bodies on Saturday. Autopsies carried out on 63 of them by Sunday revealed that 51 had died as a result of bullet wounds. Eight sustained fatal shotgun pellet injuries and three people had suffered wounds by both types of ammunition. One man also died of fractures to the skull. Ammunition extracted from eight bodies included 9 mm revolver bullets as well as rifle cartridges.
Doctors at the al-Hussein University Hospital said 60 percent of patients had been wounded from behind.
Egypt’s Minister of Interior, Mohammed Ibrahim, said on Saturday that pro-Morsi protesters had used firearms and that security forces initially responded to protesters’ attempts to block traffic. There were no fatal casualties among security forces. Hours before the killings, Mohamed Ibrahim warned that the main pro-Morsi sit-in near Rabaa al-Adawiya would be dispersed.
Amnesty International is calling on the Egyptian authorities to bring the legislation governing security forces into line with international human rights standards. As an immediate step, the Egyptian authorities must issue clear instructions to security forces to refrain from the use of disproportionate force, the organization said.
As well as violations by the security forces against supporters of Morsi, there have also been reports that Morsi supporters have taken captive and tortured individuals associated with the anti-Morsi camp.
Staff at the morgue in Cairo said that since the political violence began last month, eight bodies have been brought in bearing signs of torture – all from the vicinity of pro-Morsi sit-ins. Some had had their nails pulled out. Two people were found dumped in a trash bin near the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square sit-in bearing signs of torture on Sunday. Only one survived.
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.