1,492 people injured during Rabaa dispersal: NCHR

Ahram Online, Monday 17 Mar 2014

National Human Rights Council releases its report into violence last August

Rabaa dispersal
Dispersal of the protest camp at Rabaa in Cairo on August 14 2013 (Photo: AP)

The National Council for Human Rights held a press conference on Monday to release its final report on the circumstances that surrounded the dispersal of a pro-Mohamed Morsi protest camp last summer.

The report stressed that it would focus only on "the most brutal and outrageous violations” and is only concerned with the Rabaa Al-Adawiya sit-in in Cairo from 28 June until its dispersal on 14 August, and the violence that followed

According to human rights lawyer and NCHR member Nasser Amin, “ninety-seven percent of the victims [killed during the dispersal] were men, and 98 percent were adults,” said Amin.

In a previous press conference earlier month, Amin had said that a total of 632 people had been killed during the dispersal, including eight police officers. On Monday he added that the dispersal also left 1,492 injured and saw 800 people arrested.

The clashes between the police and the protesters began at 8:10am, with police firing teargas and protesters hurling stones and Molotov cocktails, however the report accused "extremist members" from the protest camp of being armed and using civilians as human shields, which led to deaths and injuries.

The majority of weapons used during the dispersal of pro-Morsi protesters last August were machine guns and Kalashinkovs, Amin said, without giving further details.

Footage was screened at the press conference on Monday showing violations committed by the police who the report accused of firing out of proportion.

One video showed the shooting of Asmaa El-Beltagy, daughter of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy, and the burning of the corpses of dead protesters. A video showing the police beating protesters they arrested as they left the sit-in was also screened.

There was also footage showing a man being tortured by pro-Morsi protesters at the camp.

NCHR member Abdel-Ghaffar Shukr called on the media to hold serious discussions about the report with all those involved in the incident, particularly the ministry of interior and the Muslim Brotherhood, who had not agreed to speak to the NCHR.

“That will give the Egyptian society an idea of this experience which we hope will never take place again,” said Shukr.

Members of the council has said at their previous press conference that the Ministry of Interior refused to provide them with the dispersal plans, leaving the fact-finding committee to reach conclusions on their own.

Shukr also explained that the NCHR had reached out to members of the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, the Freedom and Justice Party, Gamaa Islamiya’s Building and Development Party, and others but they refused to cooperate.

“The main role of the NCHR’s fact-finding committee is to expose what happened and then demand independent judicial investigation,” said Shukr, adding that a copy of the report has been sent to the fact-finding committee formed by interim president Adly Mansour in January.

Regarding reports of internal disputes, council head Mohamed Fayek said that opposing members attended all meetings held on the report and respected the choice of the majority in the end.

He gave an example of NCHR member and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Abdel-Qodous who, according to Fayek, requested that the report be postponed for at least week in order to reach consensus.

“I told him if it was postponed for a year you would still be against it, and suggested that we reveal it and document his objection, but he said he didn’t want to attend something he does not approve,” added Fayek.

Another critic of the report was human rights lawyer and member of the NCHR Hafez Abu Seada, who said earlier this month that the report overlooked the reasons for the deaths.

“A number of members have demanded that the revealing of the report be postponed, but the suggestion was rejected and we decided to amend the phrasing of the report; but were surprised to see the original text read out by Nasser Amin [on 5 March],” Abu Seada told Al-Ahram Arabic news website on 6 March.

During Monday’s conference, Fayek stressed that he appreciated Abu Seada’s role and that the disagreement was minor.

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