Egypt’s Military Rulers Must Rein in Security Forces to End Deadly Response to Protests, Says Amnesty International

For Immediate Release

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Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

Egypt’s Military Rulers Must Rein in Security Forces to End Deadly Response to Protests, Says Amnesty International

NEW YORK - Egypt’s military must urgently end the brutal and deadly response to protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in Alexandria, Amnesty International said today.

Some two dozen people reportedly were killed and hundreds were injured in the violent clashes that erupted in Cairo and Alexandria Saturday. Security forces appeared to fire buckshot and rubber bullets into the crowds. Bodies in the Cairo morgue reportedly showed head and chest wounds from live ammunition, including shotgun wounds. The public prosecutor has ordered a forensic examination of the bodies.

"This bloodshed over the weekend is utterly unacceptable. The violence yet again calls into question the orders given to security forces," said Philip Luther, acting director for the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International. "We hold the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) responsible for the lives and the safety of demonstrators and voters in next week’s elections."

Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square over the weekend after riot police used force to disperse a sit-in organized by a group of people injured in the January uprising. The protesters had camped in Tahrir Square last week to call for the SCAF to hand over power to civilian rule and to provide them with adequate reparations for their injuries.

In their attempt to regain control of Tahrir Square and surrounding streets, security forces beat protesters with sticks and used tear gas recklessly to disperse the crowds. Some protesters retaliated by hurling stones and, in some instances, Molotov cocktails. Some 120 people were arrested and referred to the public prosecution for investigation.

"The violent policing seen over the weekend is reminiscent of the repression during the 'January 25 revolution' and security forces relied on the same old patterns of abuse as under the three decades of Mubarak’s rule," said Luther. "While the Egyptian authorities have a duty to maintain law and order, they must not use excessive force to crack down on peaceful protests, something that poses a severe threat to Egyptians’ rights to assembly and freedom of expression."
 

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