For Immediate Release
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Amnesty International Calls On President Obama to Urge Egypt’s Mubarak to Rein In Security Forces Amid Nationwide Protests
Human Rights Organization Seeks Assurances No American-Made Weapons are Turned Against Peaceful Demonstrators
WASHINGTON - Amnesty International urged Egyptian authorities today to rein in security forces to prevent further deaths of protesters, amid continuing nationwide protests. In the United States, the human rights organization called on President Obama to exert his influence with Egypt's President Mubarak to prevent further bloodshed and to insure that no American-made weapons are turned against demonstrators.
Thousands have joined demonstrations across Egypt against poverty, police abuse and corruption. There have now been at least eight people killed and many more injured in the unrest that began Tuesday.
"The Egyptian authorities must rein in the security forces to prevent bloodshed," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"The authorities cannot continue to rely on the 30-year-old State of Emergency to enforce a blanket prohibition on public demonstrations and grant sweeping powers of search and arrest."
The organization said protesters must have the right to organize protests and demonstrate free from intimidation, violence, and the threat of detention and prosecution.
Late Thursday night communication lines to much of Egypt were severely disrupted, with internet connections and mobile phone services being cut off.
This followed disruption to SMS services, Twitter and Bambuser earlier in the week. Prominent human rights activists had also had their mobile phone accounts deactivated.
"By taking this dramatic step of stopping the flow of information between Egyptians, the authorities have shown the lengths to which they will go to remove the right to peaceful protest," said Sahraoui.
T. Kumar, Amnesty International USA Director for International Advocacy, urged the Obama Administration to immediately send a strong message to the Egyptian authorities urging them not to allow its security forces to use disproportionate force against peaceful demonstrators and to ensure that U.S. weapons are not used in the crackdown. "Any soft pedalling will send a wrong message to the Mubarak administration that the United States is accepting its behaviour," said Kumar.
Amnesty International has condemned Egyptian security forces' disproportionate and unnecessary use of live rounds and lethal force against protesters, which on Thursday reportedly led to the death of another demonstrator.
Amnesty International has received information that Ahmed Atef, 22, was killed in North Sinai when security forces in the town of Sheikh Zuweid opened fire on a crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators. Seven protesters were reportedly killed in the north-eastern city of Suez.
There have now been at least eight people killed and many more injured.
At least 1,120 protesters have been detained by the Egyptian security forces, according to figures gathered by lawyers and human rights organizations.
A number of detained protesters have told Amnesty International that they were beaten up during arrest and in detention at the Central Security camps, and denied adequate medical care.
On Wednesday eight members of the board of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, including Eissam Aryan and Mohamed Mursi, were arrested.
Under international law police may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty. In particular, they must not use firearms against persons except in self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.
Charges against protesters have included gathering, assault on security forces, damaging public property and disrupting traffic. These charges have often been used by the authorities in order to curb freedom of assembly and deny Egyptians the right to peaceful demonstrations.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
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