Amnesty Intl: Egypt authorities used excessive force to evict pro-Morsi sit-in

Ahram Online, Saturday 17 Aug 2013

Amnesty International urges investigations into the deadly dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins, arguing Egypt's police did not distinguish between violent and non-violent protesters

Amnesty International called on Friday for a prompt investigation into the deadly dispersal of Islamist sit-ins in Cairo by Egyptian police that left over 600 dead.

The organisation urged for a "full and impartial investigation" into Wednesday’s dispersals saying that the police used "unwarranted lethal" force.

"Based on the initial testimonies and other evidence we’ve gathered, there seems to be little doubt the security forces have been acting with blatant disregard for human life," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme Director Philip Luther.

“While some protesters used violence, the authorities’ response was grossly disproportionate, seemingly not differentiating between violent and non-violent protesters. Bystanders were also caught-up in the violence,” he added.

Egypt’s interior ministry claimed that the sit-ins were posing a threat to public security.

“[Protesters at the sit-ins] incited violence, possessed arms and tortured and killed people,” Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Ibrahim added that police forces "were surprised by protesters who started firing live ammunition" and added that "clear instructions" were given to security forces to limit use of weapons to teargas after protesters had been told to leave by loudspeakers.

However, these claims were disputed by the Brotherhood and eyewitness accounts, which claim that police fired at protesters.

Over 600 people were killed and thousands injured when the police dispersed protest camps of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi at Al-Nahda Square, Giza, and Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City district. Forty-three police forces were killed in the violence.

Thousands of Morsi’s supporters, mainly Islamist groups led by the Muslim Brotherhood, had been camped out for over six weeks calling for Morsi’s reinstatement. The army deposed the president on 3 July amid mass nationwide demonstrations against his rule.

Following the dispersal, Islamists vowed to continue demonstrating every day in what they dubbed “week of the coup’s end,” as they deem the army’s move an illegitimate coup against Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president.

Meanwhile, the country remains in a state of chaos as violence erupted nationwide with protests quickly developing into clashes with other citizens or security forces. Police stations, government buildings and churches have also been under attack.

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