(New York) — Amnesty International today released a comprehensive new report that documents nearly 100 individual cases of unlawful killings and detention and torture during Egypt's uprising. Issued two days before the trial of Egypt's former security chief on charges related to the killings of protesters, the report urges authorities to provide justice to all victims of the violent repression that led to the deaths of 840 people and injuries to over 6,000.
Amnesty International's 111-page report,"Egypt Rises: Killings, Detentions and Torture in the '25 January Revolution'," provides damning evidence of excessive force and disregard for life by security forces to try to disperse and suppress protests against former President Hosni Mubarak.
Over 6,000 people were injured in protests, some of them permanently. The co-ordinator of the field hospital in Tahrir Square told Amnesty International he dealt with around 300 cases of shotgun wounds to the eyes, leading to loss of vision.
Many protesters died as a result of shots to the upper body, including the head or chest, pointing to deliberate targeting of protesters posing no threat, or at the very least to reckless use of firearms.
The human rights organization said the trial of former Interior Minister Habib El Adly, which starts Saturday, is an important first step toward justice for the victims. "But the authorities' response to victims must go much further than this," the report said.
Amnesty International documented numerous cases of torture in detention during the protests, including beatings with sticks or whips, electric shocks, including to sensitive parts of the body, the contortion of the body in stress positions for long periods, verbal abuse and threats of rape.
Many victims told Amnesty International they were tortured by soldiers. Amnesty International said that victims of torture must receive adequate reparation. The organization also called on the authorities to make a clear commitment to eradicate torture.
Thirty six-year-old "Fouad" was arrested on January 29 and transferred to the Military Prison in Heikstep:
"As we entered our block we had to lie face down in the court yard and were beaten … by soldiers. They beat us again with cables and canes and used electric prods."
Many detained in connection with the unrest were tried by military courts, despite being civilians.
On February 26, Amr Abdallah Al Beheiry, his cousin and other protesters were reportedly beaten with sticks and then arrested as military police and the army used excessive force to disperse an overnight protest outside Parliament in Cairo. Al Beheiry was initially released but was then rearrested shortly after, apparently because protesters had filmed his injuries. While detained in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, he and his cousin were beaten and given electric shocks. Al Beheiry, who by all eyewitness accounts was protesting peacefully, was convicted by the Supreme Military Court on March 1 of assaulting a public official on duty and for breaking curfew. He was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. (his brother lives in the United States and is available to speak to journalists).
The organization said that while the Egyptian authorities have begun holding accountable some of those accused of responsibility for serious human rights violations, many victims of the security forces' brutality are at risk of being excluded from efforts to deal with the legacy of the violence.
"The families of those who were killed, as well as all those who were seriously injured or subjected to arbitrary detention or torture, including at the hands of the military, should expect that the authorities will prioritize their needs," Amnesty International said.
"That means giving them the truth about what happened, providing them with appropriate reparation, and making sure that all those responsible are brought to justice."
On February 16, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik stated that relatives of those killed during protests would be awarded a monthly pension of 1,500 Egyptian pounds (U.S. $250) or a one-off payment of 50,000 Egyptian pounds (U.S.$8,400) if the victim had no dependants.
But Amnesty International said more must be done for victims of serious injury, including payment of their medical costs. Government officials have said they are looking at how to help injured protesters, but to Amnesty International's knowledge no action has yet been taken.
The organization also said that the level of financial compensation to victims should take account of the circumstances of each case, including the gravity of the violation and the harm suffered.
The Egyptian government's fact-finding commission into the protests made a summary of its report public on April 14, holding the former Minister of Interior responsible for the killings of protesters.
Amnesty International said the commission needs to do more.
The Commission did not publish a full list of those killed during the demonstrations, including the circumstances of their deaths, which Amnesty International said was essential for the families of victims and society at large to be able to deal with the trauma of what had happened.
Nor did the Commission extensively investigate individual cases of arbitrary detention, torture or other ill-treatment, including by the military.
Amnesty International said that trials of civilians before military courts violate fundamental requirements of due process and fair trials, and that their continued use raises questions about the Egyptian military's commitment to establish the rule of law in Egypt.
The organization also called for further investigations into the circumstances of the deaths of at least 189 prisoners during prison unrest.
"Many hundreds of people who suffered grievous abuses during this period are still waiting to receive justice for what happened to them," said Amnesty International.
"That includes families of prisoners unlawfully killed, those who were seriously injured during protests, detainees subjected to torture, and victims of excessive force by security forces in areas not investigated by the government's Commission."
To obtain the full report, please contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, [email protected]