Egypt official rights body: Police and military used excessive force against protesters

Ahram Online, Wednesday 1 Feb 2012

National Council of Human Rights condemns forceful dispersal of protests that led to deadly clashes in and around Tahrir Square in November ‎and December, which left at least 65 dead

Military police dispersing a sit-in in Tahrir Square in November, propelling deadly clashes. (Photo:Reuters)

The National Council for Human Rights, Egypt’s official human rights body, released its findings Tuesday into November and December’s clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo.

"The use of excessive force by police and military forces, without justification, in dispersing Tahrir Square’s peaceful sit-in on 19 November 2011 led to the escalation of events," stated the report.

The report, issued on Tuesday, condemns the government's mishandling of protests and sit-ins, notably the use of excessive force by police and military forces in crackdowns on demonstrators.

With regard to December’s Cabinet clashes in which at least 19 protesters were killed, the report states that violence between military police and protesters was triggered following the latter’s detaining and beating of a protester near parliament building.

The report expressly condemns army tactics toward female protesters during the crackdown.

Addressing the November clashes, the probe’s findings precludes the scenario that they were "staged" in order to hinder parliamentary polls, which were to take place the week following the start of hostilities on 19 November.

The weeklong street battles, concentrated on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, saw security forces and protesters head to head, following the dispersal of tens of sit-in protesters, calling themselves the revolution’s injured.

The National Council’s investigation also listed several cases of protesters, field hospital doctors and journalists being kidnapped and detained by security forces in the months of November and December: some of whom were physically assaulted whilst in detention. The report went on to strongly condemn kidnapping and random arrests as a means of dealing with protesters.

In its final recommendations, the rights body calls for new legislation that would bring strike and protest laws in line with the public freedoms demanded by Egypt’s revolutionaries.

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