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Egypt

    July 25, 2013

    Security forces must do more to protect protesters from violent attack and avoid the use of excessive force against peaceful gatherings, Amnesty International said as Egypt braces for major rival political rallies on Friday.

    “Security forces have repeatedly failed to protect protesters, bystanders and residents from attacks by armed assailants. They have also failed to intervene effectively to end violent clashes between rival groups”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.

    More than 180 people have been killed in violent clashes or other political violence since 30 June, when mass demonstrations were held calling for the fall of former President Mohamed Morsi. Since then political violence has escalated between supporters and opponents of the deposed President leading to an increasing loss of life.

    “Continued failure to properly police rival street protests will lead to further bloodshed and an escalation of human rights abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

    July 23, 2013

    Security forces stood by and failed to intervene during a brutal attack on Coptic Christians in Luxor, Amnesty International said in a briefing published today. During the sectarian violence, security forces left six besieged men –four of whom were then killed and one hospitalized – to the mercy of an angry crowd.

    In an attack lasting 18 hours on 5 July, four Coptic Christian men were killed and four others were seriously injured. An angry mob armed with metal bars, knives, tree branches and hammers attacked Christian homes and businesses in Nagah Hassan, 18 km west of Luxor, after the dead body of a Muslim man was discovered near the homes of Christian families. Despite local residents’ and religious leaders’ repeated calls for help, security forces on the scene made only half-hearted attempts to end the violence and sufficient reinforcements failed to arrive.

    July 17, 2013

    Hundreds of pro-Morsi supporters arrested by the Egyptian authorities have been denied their legal rights, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. The organization has gathered testimonies from detainees who said that they were beaten upon arrest, subjected to electric shocks or hit with rifle butts.

    The Egyptian authorities must respect the right to due process for those who have been rounded up and are facing accusations of inciting or participating in violence in the last two weeks. Allegations of ill-treatment must be investigated urgently.

    “At this time of extreme polarization and division, it is more important than ever that the office of the Public Prosecutor demonstrates that it’s truly independent and not politicized,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International. “These cases risk being seen as mere retribution rather than justice.”

    July 10, 2013

    The Egyptian authorities should not recklessly deny entry to Syrians and must provide anyone fleeing the conflict the opportunity to seek asylum, Amnesty International said today after reports that some 259 people were turned back at Cairo Airport on Monday.

    “Given the scale of violence, bloodshed and human rights abuses currently taking place in Syria, it is unthinkable that Egypt should deny Syrians fleeing for their lives safety," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui , Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa programme.

    Syrian nationals arriving on Monday were denied entry to Egypt on the grounds that the passengers had not obtained the newly required visas or security permits. Previously, Syrian nationals did not require visas to enter Egypt.

    While the Egyptian authorities can regulate entry to and stay in Egypt, they must do so in full respect of their international human rights and refugee law obligations.

    Those sent back include: 95 passengers on a Syrian Airlines flight to Latakia, in Syria; 55 flew MEA back to Beirut; some 25 to Jordan, and six to Abu Dhabi.

    July 10, 2013

    Evidence gathered by Amnesty International suggests that the security forces have used excessive force against supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi. Since last Friday at least 88 people have lost their lives in protests and political violence, including three members of the security forces, with around 1,500 wounded.

    At least 51 Morsi supporters were killed yesterday during clashes outside the Republican guard headquarters.

    “Despite claims by the military that protesters attacked first during clashes on Monday and that no women and children were injured, first hand accounts collected by Amnesty International paint a very different picture. Even if some protesters used violence, the response was disproportionate and led to the loss of life and injury among peaceful protesters,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    The army and Interior Ministry said yesterday that the violence followed an attack by protesters around the Republican Guard Club, and announced that a military officer and two members of the security forces were killed.

    July 08, 2013

    Amnesty International is calling for an urgent independent investigation into the reported deaths of at least 51 people outside the Republican Guard headquarters today.

    “There is a crucial need for independent and impartial investigations that can be trusted by all sides. However, Egypt’s authorities have a poor track record of delivering truth and justice for human rights violations,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

    “Past military investigations have white-washed army abuses, and the authorities have buried the conclusions of a fact-finding report they ordered into protester-killings, refusing to make it public. Egypt’s Public Prosecution has spent more time charging government critics than it has prosecuting the police and army for human rights violations.”

    July 05, 2013

    Amnesty International is warning against a crackdown on supporters of Mohamed Morsi, after documenting a new wave of arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, raids on media and an incident in which a protester was killed by army live fire.

    Since former President Mohamed Morsi was deposed on 3 July, Amnesty International has spoken to eyewitnesses who were fired on by the army in a street near Rabaa Aladaweya Square in Cairo’s Nasr City that evening. Live ammunition was used on the pro-Morsi protest, and at least one demonstrator was killed.
     
    “We fear that the violence of the last few days could spiral into a new wave of human rights abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme, amid reports that more pro-Morsi protesters were shot today as they marched on the headquarters of the Republican Guard in Cairo. “It also resurrects fears of the army’s abysmal record on human rights.”

    July 03, 2013

    With the ousting of President Morsi in Egypt, Amnesty International urges the security forces, including the army, to do all within their power to protect the human rights and safety of everyone in Egypt, regardless of their political affiliation.

    The armed forces and the police in Egypt have a well documented record of human rights violations which must not be repeated. The army stated that it will deal with any acts of violence with the “utmost force and determination”.

    “In this time of great tension and with the constitution suspended, it is more important than ever that the military comply with Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Salil Shetty, General Secretary of Amnesty International.

    "There has already been a blow to freedom of expression, with several TV channels which supported the President silenced and staff reportedly arrested immediately after his overthrow. Amid fears of possible reprisals and revenge attacks against supporters of President Morsi, along with the worrying trend of mob violence and sexual assaults on women this is a time for extreme caution."

    July 03, 2013

    The political turmoil in Egypt left at least 36 people dead and hundreds injured since 30 June, amid security forces failure to prevent or defuse the violence. On Tuesday, the bloodiest day of clashes, 21 people were killed according to officials of the prosecution investigating the violence. The casualties included both supporters and opponents of the President.  

    July 03, 2013

    Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher, blogs from Cairo

    While the world is focusing on the political fall-out of millions of people taking to the streets in Egypt, with widespread calls for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi, and the army taking over, other stomach-turning developments have passed virtually unnoticed: Women and girls protesting in the vicinity of Tahrir Square are, time and time again, being sexually attacked by mobs, with authorities remaining idle.

    This is not a new phenomenon.

    Testimonies from women caught up in the demonstrations, survivors from previous protests and those trying to help, point to a horrific chain of events: tens if not hundreds of men surround their victims, tearing-off their clothes and veils, unzipping trousers, groping breasts and backsides. Sticks, blades and other weapons are frequently used in such attacks.

    July 03, 2013

    Egyptian police and security forces are failing to protect protesters and bystanders from violence amid the country’s political strife, Amnesty International said today, on the brink of the army’s threatened intervention to resolve the crisis.

    According to evidence gathered by Amnesty International researchers in Egypt, security forces have not been intervening or have been despatched too late to stop violence during the clashes. Violence between opponents and supporters of President Morsi erupted across the country on 28 June.

    “The security forces should have been more than ready to prevent and stop the kinds of deadly clashes that we’ve seen in the past three days,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.  

    June 28, 2013

    The Egyptian authorities must uphold the right to peaceful assembly and protect protesters and bystanders from violence, Amnesty International said today ahead of planned nationwide demonstrations this weekend.

    Opponents of President Mohamed Morsi are expected to take to the streets en masse in cities across Egypt to mark his first year in office on 30 June, with his supporters holding counter-rallies.

    "Given the appalling track record in policing demonstrations, it is absolutely imperative that the Egyptian authorities issue very clear instructions to security forces to uphold protesters’ right to freedom of assembly and refrain from unnecessary or excessive force," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director.

    “They should make clear that anyone responsible for arbitrary and abusive force will be brought to justice.”

    June 24, 2013

    Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi must urgently tackle the unprecedented level of sectarian violence against Shi’a Muslims and ensure they are protected from further attacks, Amnesty International said after four Shi’a men were killed in south Cairo during a violent attack on Sunday.

    “The Egyptian authorities must immediately order an independent and impartial investigation into the killing of the four men, and send a clear message that carrying out attacks and inciting violence against Shi’a Muslims will not be tolerated,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.

    “Investigations must look at why security forces yet again failed to stop the bloodshed, as well as whether advocacy of hatred and incitement to violence played a role.”

    On 23 June, a large group of villagers surrounded the house of local Shi’a Muslim resident, Farahat Ali Mohamed, in the Zawiyat Abu Musalam village in Giza, where a religious ceremony was being held.

    The villagers demanded that visiting Shi’a Sheikh Hassan Shahata hand himself over to them.

    June 17, 2013

    A recent one-year prison sentence handed down against a prominent opposition activist in Egypt is the latest attempt by the government to silence criticism, Amnesty International said today while calling for the conviction to be quashed and for him to be released.

    On 15 June, an Alexandria appeals court upheld the conviction against Hassan Mostafa for insulting and attacking a public prosecutor but lowered his sentence from two years in prison to one year with labour.

    Mostafa, who denies the accusations against him, was not brought to the hearing on Saturday.

    “The conviction against Hassan Mostafa is the latest blow to freedom of expression in Egypt, where we see case after case of opposition activists, bloggers, comedians and protesters facing trial for criticizing the authorities or ‘defaming religion’,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

    June 11, 2013

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday announced, in a televised speech, that he would show no more tolerance for protests that have shaken the country for nearly two weeks.

    Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher at Amnesty International who is currently in Istanbul, responded: “The Turkish Prime Minister has sought to declare the recent wave of protest over by personal diktat - this is not how the freedom of assembly works. Prime Minister Erdogan now bears personal responsibility for the violence that immediately followed his words. Peaceful protest must be respected and the international community must urge him to change tack to prevent further unnecessary bloodshed.”

    Following the Prime Minister’s speech, Amnesty International observers reported at least 30 tear gas canisters thrown into Gezi Park on Tuesday evening, despite the Istanbul Governor’s pledge earlier in the day to halt the police intervention there.

    Activists have now been protesting for nearly two weeks against the construction of a shopping centre in Gezi Park adjacent to Istanbul’s Taksim Square, one of the last green spaces in the city.

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