Egypt's rights organisations push for prosecution of whoever 'pulled the plug'

Ahram Online, Saturday 23 Feb 2013

Egyptian rights organisations, indignant over a lack of prosecution against those who ordered the communications blackout during the bloodiest days of the revolution, blame the president and courts

mobile operators

Fourteen Egyptian rights organisations condemn that none of those responsible of shutting down internet and mobile services during the 18-day uprising in January 2011 were put on trial.

The organisations claim in a statement Saturday that even though the investigation into the case filed by The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) to specifically identify" the person who gave the order has been completed, the court never proceeded with the case. The organisations charge that the communications blackout contributed to the mass killing of protesters during the bloodiest days of the uprising.

The rights organisations also expressed their dissatisfaction that President Mohamed Morsi did not intervene, even though they communicated with his office on the issue.  

"The investigation ended in August 2011 with an order that [the case] be referred to [a Giza criminal court], but Adel Saeed, the former assistant to the general prosecutor... froze the case," the statement said.

"However, after pressure from ANHRI [Saeed] referred it to the military prosecutor-general, who refused to refer the case to court," reveal the organisations.

ANHRI then decided to send Morsi a "comprehensive" report on the issue in November, urging him to intervene, to which they say they did not receive a response.

The statement considered this "ignoring the rule of law, a cover-up for those accused of murder and a continuation of the policy of impunity."

They charged that even though the newly-elected, civilian president repeatedly speaks of his support and sympathy with the "martyrs' rights," he does not take "real action" to prove it.

Organisations that signed the statement, beside ANHRI include the Organisation for Freedom of Thought and Expression, El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, Centre for Women's Issues and Hisham Mubarak Law Centre.

Most internet connections and all mobile services were shut down during demonstrations that began on 25 January against decades of police brutality. Starting 25 January Egyptian government gradually shut down mobile services, starting with putting down network coverage in Tahrir Square, then extending it to Cairo and nationwide. Under the cover of the communications blackout on 28 January 2011, dubbed the "Friday of Rage," deadly clashes exploded between police and protesters. This was a turning point that sparked the revolution that demanded the ouster of the regime.

Mobile services resumed shortly after that, however, internet connections were not re-activated until 2 February 2011. 

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