the human rights crisis in Egypt<br>Interim government must cooperate with UN; Arab League must send a fact-finding mission

The undersigned Arab human rights organizations are closely and concernedly following the grave threats to human rights in Egypt following the spread of violence which has claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people and left thousands injured since June 30. The undersigned organizations condemn the excessive use of lethal force against protests and sit-ins held by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its supporters, as well as the return of MB supporters to the use of violence. Acts of terrorism has extended beyond the Sinai Peninsula to reach the capital and several governorates in the north, south, and west of the country. State-owned institutions, churches, and police stations have been stormed, ransacked, and torched, and Copts and military and police officers have been targeted. Journalists have also been harassed, assaulted, and killed by both the security authorities and MB supporters.

The undersigned organizations express their utmost concern regarding the continual use of lethal force by security forces in confronting popular protests since the revolution of January 25, 2011, including under former president Hosni Mubarak, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), former president Mohamed Morsi, and the current interim government. Data indicates that the number of casualties resulting from the use of lethal force against protests and sit-ins is on the rise and is accompanied by a blatant lack of political will to expose the truth and ensure that justice is achieved.

In fact, truth and justice are the most prominent victims of more than 30 months of political violence in Egypt, in addition to the thousands of dead and injured. Had there been genuine political will to achieve justice and to uncover the truth, impunity for crimes would not continue today, nor would blood be spilled on a daily basis as it has before, during, and after the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Both the military council that assumed control of the country on February 11, 2011, and former president Mohamed Morsi, who assumed the presidency on July 1, 2012, disregarded the roadmap for promoting human rights which was presented by independent Egyptian human rights groups on the first day each of them assumed power. Both the SCAF’s and President Morsi’s pursuit of authoritarian and security-based policies inimical to the goals of the Egyptian revolution, to human rights, and to democratic values provoked popular anger against these policies and the rule of the MB. Since November 2012, this anger was expressed repeatedly by the Egyptian people and culminated in the popular uprising of June 30, which demanded early presidential elections. The army relied on this uprising to intervene on July 3 by deposing Morsi and announcing a new transitional roadmap that adopted the proposals of political forces and some civil and Islamist parties.

However, after June 30 the ruling authorities continued to commit some of the same errors as the former regime and to disregard the demands of Egyptian human rights organizations for serious, independent investigations to be conducted into the recent violence that has left 1,000 dead from various sides since June 30. Moreover, the heads of the security establishment who were responsible for human rights violations during the tenure of Mohamed Morsi remain in their positions, despite the rebellion against Morsi’s regime and the security practices of his era.

The undersigned organizations are also following the increasingly intense polarization between media outlets supportive of the current regime and those supporting the MB, and we assert that the principal victim of this polarization is the truth. We also note that while the pro-MB media employs rhetoric of religious excommunication against its political opponents, the pro-government media after July 3 began wielding accusations of national betrayal and treason against those who oppose the actions of the new regime. As a result, independent voices of politicians, writers, journalists, academics, and human rights groups have been marginalized, and at times these individuals have been attacked with the most slanderous of terms.

The undersigned Arab human rights organizations fear that the continued dominance of security rhetoric and considerations will lead to further bloodshed and undermine opportunities for democratization, respect for human rights, and the achievement of social justice. This will in turn give rise to a social, political, and religious climate that fosters violence and terrorism.

As such, the undersigned organizations urge the Egyptian authorities to take the following measures:

  • Respect freedom of opinion and expression; differentiate peaceful protest and expression from violence and terrorism; and comply with international law and human rights standards when confronting acts of violence and terrorism.
  • Comply with international human rights standards regarding the use of force and fire army by law enforcement officials, particularly with regards to the use of lethal force after exhausting all other options.
  • Adhere to the political roadmap and timeframe designated for the current transitional period.
  • Protect all citizens, parties, and institutions which may be targeted for terrorism and violence, both within and outside of Sinai.
  • Guarantee legal defense for all detainees and permit them to meet with their lawyers, their families, and independent human rights organizations.
  • Facilitate the work of the delegation from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to evaluate the human rights situation in Egypt, particularly in view of the fact that the delegation filed a request for entry visas over one month ago and has yet to receive them.

The undersigned organizations urge supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to take the following measures:

  • Renounce violence and cease targeting other citizens, including Christians and police and army personnel.
  • Cease propagating a discourse of religious hatred and incitement to violence in mosques, in the media, and elsewhere, and denounce those leaders who engaged in incitement to hatred and violence and took up arms against citizens and police.

The undersigned organizations also urge Egyptian journalists and media experts to work closely with media institutions to implement the proposals and recommendations submitted before and after the January 25 revolution to reform and develop the performance of both state-owned and private media, in order to ensure compliance with professional standards for press and media coverage, including by avoiding mixing opinion and fact to mislead citizens and by refraining from forfeiting the truth for the sake of political or religious ideology.

Finally, the undersigned organizations call upon the Arab League to consult the Egyptian government with regards to sending a fact-finding mission to investigate the recent acts of violence in Egypt, particularly as the United Nations has moved on multiple levels (through continual statements issued by the Secretary General, sending a special delegation headed by the Assistant to the Secretary General for Political Affairs, and a request by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to allow a delegation to visit Egypt to evaluate the current human rights crisis). Moreover, the African Union also established the AU High-Level Panel on Egypt which has visited Egypt twice for the same purpose.

 

Signatory organizations

1.     Cairo institute for Human Rights Studies
2.     Al-Khatim Adlan Centre for Enlightenment & Human Development, Sudan.
3.     Appropriate Communications Techniques for Development, Egypt.
4.     Arab Network for Human Rights Information
5.     Arab Ngo Network for Development
6.     Arab Penal Reform Organization
7.     Bahrain Transparency Society
8.     Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights.
9.     Centre De Tunis Pour Liberte De La Presse.
10. Committee for the respect of liberties and human rights.
11. Group for Human Rights Legal Assistance, Egypt.
12. Human rights first society Saudi Arabia.
13. L’Association Adala (Justice), Morocco.
14. Lawyers for Justice in Libya, Libya.
15. Moroccan Instance of Human Rights.
16. Palestinian Human Rights Organization.
17. Sudan Social Development Organization.
18. Sudanese Observatory for Human Rights.
19. The Collective of NGOs in Sidon, Lebanon.
20. Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights.
21. Yemen Center for Transitional Justice.
22. Yemen Organizations. For Defending Rights & Democratic Freedoms.

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