26 January 2011

Egypt: Concerns Over 'Police Brutality' in Protest Crackdown

Egyptian police used "brutal force" against anti-government protesters who broke through police cordons Wednesday, a day after authorities banned public demonstrations.

Security officials said some 700 people had been arrested over two days of protests to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

The police used "brutal force," using batons and beating protesters Philip Rizak - Egyptian-German journalist and film maker - told RFI.

"This is a protest against the rule of this government...it is a direct protest against structural issues in this country, we have a government which is ruling to exploit the people," he said.

"Obviously what happened in Tunisa was a very strong message that protest works and people have a voice and it has potential for change", he added.

RFI also spoke to George Isak, the National Coordinator for grassroots activist group Kefaya who agreed that the atmosphere has changed since the uprising in Tunisia.

"The change will destroy every Arab leader that's ruled their people in this evil way", he said.

When quizzed about whether the Egyptian protests were about unemployment or rising prices Isak said that "the demand is about freedom first of all, then we talk about other issues, but the most important thing for now...we need freedom, we want to be free".

Blogger and human rights defender Ramy Ayouf told RFI that up to 18 protesters were "kidnapped" in Cairo by police officers wearing civilian dress.

European nations and the US led a growing chorus of concern Wednesday over Cairo's crackdown on the protests, whilst UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on the Egyptian government Wednesday to respond to "the legitimate concerns" of its people who have staged protests.

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