31 July 2013

Egypt's Decision to Disperse Sit-Ins Is a 'Recipe for Disaster'

press release

Photo: Daniel Finnan/RFI
A revolution in chains - a protester demonstrates his feelings outside the Constitutional Court in Cairo.

The Egyptian government's decision to mandate security forces to end all pro-Morsi sit-ins in Greater Cairo, considering recent violence against protesters, is a recipe for further bloodshed, Amnesty International said.

"Given the Egyptian security forces' record of policing demonstrations with the routine use of excessive and unwarranted lethal force, this latest announcement gives a seal of approval to further abuse" said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

"The authorities as well as the security forces should start with an approach that avoids the use of force and is based on 'methods of persuasion, negotiation and mediation', as recommended by international standards."

Earlier today, the Egyptian cabinet said, in a televised statement, that pro-Morsi sit-ins in Greater Cairo are now considered a "threat to national security".

However, they failed to specify what measures they would take to minimise violent confrontation and the potential loss of life and serious injury.

Last week the Egyptian security forces cracked down on a protest near the pro-Morsi sit-in in Rabaa al-Adawya. Live fire was used, resulting in the death of 80 people.

"Security forces should not resort to the use of firearms unless there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

Over recent weeks, there have also been violent acts including torture and the use of live weapons by pro-Morsi supporters.

"The use of violence by some protesters should not be a pretext to prevent others from exercising their right to peaceful protest. It is a human right that the Egyptian authorities have an obligation to uphold. The decision to disperse any assembly should only be taken as last resort."

"Any reports of violence should be investigated in an impartial and independent way."

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