Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Violent Clashes in Cairo Leave 22 Dead

SOURCE: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information/IFEX - Cairo, 21 November 2011 - ANHRI has condemned the use of excessive force in dealing with protesters in Tahrir Square by the Central Security Forces of the Ministry of Interior and members of the Armed Forces.

Since the morning of 19 November, there have been ongoing attempts to disperse the protesters with fierce brutality. In one incident, a protester was killed and dragged into a pile of trash. Security services are still engaged in bloody clashes with the protesters, using tear gas canisters and heavy rubber and live bullets. A number of protesters have been killed and hundreds injured, in reminiscence of demonstrations in January that succeeded in toppling former president Hosni Mubarak. The Military Council's claimed reforms have been nominal, aimed at giving an impression of change without actually changing any of the security policies that led the outbreak of the 25 January revolution.

The latest clashes began after some political groups called for a million man march on 18 November to protest against the Constitutional Principles Document (also known as the Selmi document, named after Deputy Prime Minister Ali Al-Selmi), and to demand that the Military Council hand over power to a civil authority on a date specified in the Constitutional Declaration. After the march, a group of youth and victims of the revolution decided to hold a sit-in at Tahrir Square to protest the fact that the Military Council had ignored their demands.

On the morning of Saturday 19 November, protesters were violently attacked by the Central Security Forces in an attempt to break up their sit-in. Following this oppressive move, activists and citizens headed to Tahrir Square and several other demonstrations were organized in different governorates in support of the Tahrir protesters. Rather than acknowledging their mistake however, security forces used further brutality to suppress the different protests, firing rubber bullets and cartridges directly and deliberately at protesters' faces and eyes. Despite the numerous face and eye injuries suffered by the protesters, the sit-in was not dispersed.

Following violent clashes with protesters, the Military Police and some military groups joined the security forces on Sunday 20 November, attacking demonstrators with tear gas canisters and live and rubber bullets, resulting in more deaths and injuries. As the clashes escalated, the Military Police withdrew, and the Central Security Forces continued to clash with the protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud street, one of the streets branching off from the square. More than 22 protesters were killed and over 425 injured. Clashes are continuing and the death toll is likely to rise.

"The current events are reminiscent of January. The Military Council should fully understand that if the ousted dictator and his government had responded reasonably to the peaceful demonstrations at the start instead of violently, they would have spared the country much bloodshed. Now, after these regrettable events, the Military Council should be well aware that it represents an interim authority, whose mission is to execute the demands and goals of the Egyptian revolution, and to hand over power to a democratically- elected government. The Military Council should not keep delaying the implementation of these demands and prolonging the transitional phase," said ANHRI.

ANHRI also called for the dismissal and prosecution of the Minister of the Interior, along with all those responsible for using excessive force against the protesters, and for the appointment of a new civilian minister to reform it.

No comments: