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Egypt military urged to respect rights of protesters

    February 01, 2011

    Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian military to respect the rights of protesters as Cairo demonstrators held their biggest protest yet amid ongoing nationwide unrest. 

    Media reports said hundreds of thousands of people had gathered for what organisers dubbed a ‘Million Man’ protest calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down and corruption, poverty and police abuses to end.

    Egypt’s military announced a day earlier that it would not fire on peaceful protesters and said the aims of the demonstrators were legitimate.

    “Protecting the right to demonstrate peacefully is a duty,” said Claudio Cordone, Senior Director at Amnesty International.

    “We welcome the army’s commitment not to fire on protesters, after we have repeatedly raised concerns about the excessive use of force by security forces during the demonstrations.”

    Protesters have accused plainclothes police agents and criminals in the pay of the police of carrying out looting in the past week in order to discredit the demonstrations.

    Troops carried out searches at entry and exit points to the square and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities was placed under heavy guard, Amnesty International staff present at the protest reported.

    Amnesty International also called for the restoration of internet services after Noor, the one remaining provider in Egypt, was cut off yesterday. 

    “Protesters have shown that they can organise massive demonstrations with or without the internet – but what is crucial now is the free flow of information so that evidence on the abuses and killings that have occurred in the past week can be brought to light, and those responsible brought to account” said Malcolm Smart.

    Mobile phone services have been restored.

    John Tackaberry,
    Media Relations,
    Amnesty International Canada
    613-744-7667, ext 236

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