CAIRO – In its report issued on Tuesday, August 12, Human Rights Watch described the killing of at least 1,150 demonstrators by Egypt's security forces in July and August 2013, as 'systematic and premeditated', but Egypt's authorities blasted the report as "biased" and "politicized"
"In Rabia Square, Egyptian security forces carried out one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
“This wasn’t merely a case of excessive force or poor training. It was a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government. Many of the same officials are still in power in Egypt, and have a lot to answer for.”
Based on a year-long investigation, the report, titled “All According to Plan: The Rabia Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt” was issued on Tuesday by HRW.
The 188p-age report documents the way the Egyptian police and army methodically opened fire with live ammunition on crowds of demonstrators opposed to the military’s July 3 ouster of Mohamed Morsy, Egypt’s first elected civilian president, at six demonstrations between July 5 and August 17, 2013.
Human Rights Watch documented 817 people killed in the Rabia dispersal alone.
The report added that Egyptian officials have tried to justify their dispersal of the Rabia sit-in by claiming that it disrupted the lives of local residents, and provided a forum for incitement and terrorism and a site for demonstrators to detain and abuse opponents.
However, the killing of 817 or more protesters was clearly disproportionate to any threat to local residents, security personnel, or anyone else, HRW said.
Based on interviews with 122 witnesses, including residents unsympathetic to the protesters, and a review of video footage, HRW concluded security forces left no safe exit for most of the 12-hour assault and at times fired on those seeking to escape.
“Evidence showing how security forces opened fire on crowds of protesters from the first minutes of the dispersal belies any claims that the government sought to minimize casualties,” Roth said.
“The brutal way security forces dispersed this demonstration resulted in a shocking death toll that anyone could have foreseen, and indeed the government had anticipated.”
Rejecting HRW’s report, Egypt's interior ministry published a statement on its Facebook page on Tuesday morning condemning HRW as a group that worked in Egypt "above the law" and "without legal basis", The Guardian reported.
Moreover, authorities held Roth and HRW Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson at Cairo airport and then denied entry to the country as they traveled to launch the report.
Airport authorities said they had been turned back on instructions from security officials.
Interior ministry, which runs Egypt’s police force, has also blamed HRW directors' deportation on their failure to procure the correct visas.
In a second statement emailed earlier to Egyptian reporters, an interior ministry spokesman stressed that the clearance was carried out with restraint, and followed weeks of negotiations to empty the sites peacefully, and several warnings on the day of the killings itself.
Egyptian officials, who call the Brotherhood a terrorist group, have repeatedly said that some protesters were armed and fired at police and soldiers.
HRW acknowledged that protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs at security forces and a few opened fire. That failed to justify the level of force deployed by the state, it said.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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