Rights groups demand Rabea inquiry

In a joint press release, 13 Egyptian and International human rights organizations criticized the government for failing to acknowledge the killing of 1,000 supporters of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi during the dispersal of two Cairo sit-ins on August 14.

The organizations include: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, and the Arab Network for Human Rights Information.

The organizations demand an investigation into the deaths and hold security forces accountable for their use of excessive force.

On August 14, joint civilian and military forces attacked two sit-ins supporting the deposed president with brutal force.

The statement maintains the government is yet to establish a public record of what happened and to hold those responsible to account.

Although Egypt has established a new Transitional Justice Ministry, the groups say that no concrete steps towards investigating human rights violations since January 2011 have been taken.

“There can be no hope for the rule of law and political stability in Egypt, much less some modicum of justice for victims, without accountability for what may be the single biggest incident of mass killing in Egypt’s recent history on August 14,” said Gasser Abdel Razek, associate director at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

The groups suggest the government, as a first step towards justice, forms an independent fact-finding committee, which should be given the authority to summon officials and witnesses.

While acknowledging that a minority of protesters used firearms during the sit-in dispersals on August 14, the rights organizations say that police responded with excessive force, shooting recklessly and using a level of violence that is only permitted in order to protect life.

“The killing of seven police officers during the dispersal of the Rabea sit-in does not justify the kind of collective punishment of hundreds of protesters and disproportionate use of lethal force that we saw that day,” said Bahey Eddin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The report also refers to other uninvestigated incidents where excessive force was used against protesters prior to the sit-in dispersals. One such incident was a pro-Morsi rally at the presidential guard building on July 8, during which 57 protesters were killed when military forces opened fire on protesters.

On August 16, 120 people were killed in Ramses Square in another incident of reckless violence, according to the organizations.

Again on October 6, 57 people were killed when lethal force was used to disperse pro-Morsi marches.

The organizations accuse the prosecution of selectively investigating protesters and ignoring the role of security forces and officials in the violence.