15 August 2013
FIDH is appalled by the reports of massive casualties resulting from a move of the governmental security forces to clear « pro-Morsi sit-ins » in two different locations in Cairo on August 14, 2013.
Early morning on August 14, police forces, supported by the Military, violently dispersed the crowds gathered on Nahda Square, close to Cairo University, as well as in Raab Al Adawiyah, where supporters of ousted President Morsi had been protesting since what they consider to be a « coup » when the Egyptian Army deposed Mohamed Morsi beginning of July and arrested a number of the Muslim Brotherhood dignitaries.
There are conflicting reports on the number of casualties, ranging from 327 to 2500 people killed depending on the sources. According to FIDH member organizations in Egypt currently investigating in the vicinities as well as in morgues and hospitals, certainly more than 200 people have been killed, mostly from gun shot and by suffocation after inhaling tear gas, and statistics may well rise to several hundreds within hours.
“Despite reports alleging violence by sometimes heavily armed protesters, the figures we have obtained, numbering hundreds of persons killed among the crowd, tend to demonstrate an excessive use of force by the security forces” stated Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.
« This is the third time in less than a month that the Egyptian army and police have used tear gas and shooting indiscriminately at protesters, thus killing a huge number of people. Except for an investigation opened by the public Prosecutor, no official committee has yet begun to look into the first two cases of bloodsheds, and we fear it might be the same this time again. No investigation, and thus a total lack of acccountability and a permanent impunity for the security forces involved in the killing of protesters since the beginning of the uprising in January 2011, contributes to increasing unrest and fueling more violence » added Karim Lahidji.
Although it recognises the necessity to regain control of the situation and ensure peace and security, FIDH is concerned by the month-long State of emergency declared by the Egyptian Presidency, starting August 14, as it grants the police extra-judicial powers to arrest and detain indivuals without legal charges, which the police and then the Army have extensively used in the past, referring large numbers of civilians to military courts. Massive arrests have allegedly started all over the country during the day.
Violence is now spreading all over the country and churches are being set on fire in different regions, tremendoulsy increasing the risk for Egypt to slip into more sectarian violence and potentially into civil strife.
FIDH urges the Egyptian authorities to refrain from excessive use of violence and to refrain from arbitrarily arresting and detaining individuals without charges during the duration of the state of emergency;
FIDH urges the authorities to open an independent and impartial investigation and to publish the findings;
FIDH calls on the authorities to inform the public of the status and condition of ousted President Morsi;
FIDH urges the Egyptian authorities to respect and ensure the right to freedom of peaceful assembly;
FIDH urges the authorities as well as any religious and political group to refrain from inciting to more violence and witch hunting, targeting specific groups in consideration of their religion, political affiliation or race;
FIDH calls on the Egyptian population to refrain from resorting to violence, especially using fire arms and weapons of all kinds.