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Egypt's Sisi tells army, police to be 'mindful of human rights'

El-Sisi says Egypt will 'avenge the deaths of its martyrs', adding that 'everyone should know that Egypt has an army that is willing to die for the country to live'

Ahram Online , Sunday 1 Feb 2015
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (C) talks to the media next to top military generals after an emergency meeting of the Supreme Council of the armed Forces in Cairo, in this January 31, 2015 handout supplied by the Egyptian Presidency (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi told police and army commanders during a meeting on Sunday to be "mindful of human rights" while doing their jobs, in apparent response to growing criticism of what critics perceive as the security forces' heavy-handed tactics.

The meeting, which took place at Al-Galaa military theatre in Cairo, was attended by the Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, Defence Minister Sedky Sobhi, Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, and Coptic Pope Tawadros II, as well as other political parties and figures.

It came a few days after at least 30 people were killed in coordinated militant attacks on Thursday in the restive North Sinai governorate, including army personnel and civilians.

"Egypt will avenge the deaths of its martyrs. Everyone should know that Egypt has an army that is willing to die for the country to live." El-Sisi said.

The president has asked Lieutenant-General Osama Askar, head of a newly formed military command structure, to lead counter terrorism efforts, and pledged that "what happened in North Sinai won't take place again."

On Saturday, El-Sisi ordered the formation of a unified command structure that will guide counter-terrorism efforts of the Second and Third army in the area. Askar, previously head of the third army, will be its commander.

"You are responsible in front of me and all Egyptians for Sinai's development as well," El-Sisi told Askar.

The president also asked the interior minister to reveal the truth behind the killing of activist Shaimaa El-Sabagh, which was widely condemned by many political parties, with the opposition pointing the finger at Egyptian police.

El-Sabagh was killed in a memorial march on 24 January. She was marching together with approximately two dozen other members of the Socialist Populist Alliance Party. The march was heading to Tahrir Square to lay flowers in memory of protestors who died during the 2011 uprising that ended the 30-year rule of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.  

The party accused the police of shooting her.

"I promise the people that if a police officer or conscript is proven implicated [in El-Sabagh's killing], I will hand him to the criminal and administrative courts," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim publicly pledged to El-Sisi.

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