25 January in Paris 0

Immediate end to all forms of violence against peaceful protesters in Egypt, and a guarantee for their protection

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Petition demanding the immediate end of all forms of violence against peaceful protesters in Egypt, and a guarantee for their protection.

Since the start of the Egyptian revolution on 25th January, 2011, peaceful protesters have repeatedly been victims of two forms of violence: direct violence exercised by the authorities, and indirect violence exercised by armed “unidentified” persons in civilian clothing.

The first form of violence is unacceptable as it is a direct infringement by the State on the right to peaceful assembly. The second form is of no lesser importance as the State, by merely observing violence of an apparent “civilian nature” against protesters, the State has abandoned its responsibility of protecting the population, and is complicit in the incitement of sectarian violence and civil war.

Firstly, we strongly denounce the direct violence exercised by the Egyptian military and police forces against peaceful protesters.

A non-exhaustive list of such violence follows:
  • Dispersions by use of force of “sit-ins”, strikes and demonstrations following the fall of Mubarak
  • Large scale arrests of protesters and workers on strike, and their transferral to military tribunals for court-martialling
  • The use of pellet cartridges and live ammunition against peaceful protesters
  • Destruction of the tents and possessions of protesters in Tahrir Square and in other squares
  • Repeatedly blocking entry into Tahrir Square to prevent access to medical aid and supplies.
  • Forced virginity tests carried out by military prison authorities on several detained female protesters following the forceful dispersion of a peaceful sit-in on 9th March, 2011
  • Terrorisation of striking workers in a sit-in at the Shebine textile factory. On 7th April, 2011, armed forces surrounded and attempted to breach the workers’ sit-in, using armoured tanks and warning shots of live fire.
  • On 9th October, 2011, a peaceful sit-in in Maspero Square was attacked by armed forces firing live ammunition and driving armoured tanks at high speed into the crowd. Egypt suffered the loss of 28 lives, killed by live bullets or crushed under tanks, and 321 wounded.
  • On 19th November, 2011, during the events of Mohamed Mahmoud street, protesters were attacked by the police forces using live ammunition and pellet cartridges, as well as internationally banned tear gas. The country again suffered a large number of deaths and injuries, many of which involve the loss of eyesight in at least one eye.
  • On 16th December, 2011, a sit-in in front of the Council of Ministers building was violently dispersed, resulting in more deaths and injuries.

The record is appalling: since 11th February 2011, over 400 protesters and workers have lost their lives, in addition to more than 5000 being wounded (of which 150 have lost at least one eye), and more than 15,000 civilians beng detained and tried in military tribunals without the right to choose a lawyer or to appeal.

Secondly, we strongly denounce the indirect violence by the state authorities against peaceful protesters, as exercised by private intermediaries.

The use of private persons to commit acts of violence against protesters for the first time since the start of the revolution took place on 2nd February, 2011, in what has been named the "Battle of the Camel" where armed civilians on horses and camels charged into the crowd of protesters in Tahrir Square. Here, the following question remains unanswered: how can a large number of civilians on camels and horses, armed with knives and firearms, be able to cross the city of Cairo, escaping the vigilance of the tanks and military vehicles plying the city and supposedly protecting the square?

Attacks by private civilian intermediates on peaceful protests have been repeated several times
  • On 23rd July, 2011, in Abbasseya, a demonstration demanding that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces end all military tribunals for civilians was attacked by armed persons in civilian clothing resulting in clashes that led to one death and 231 wounded.
  • On 2nd May, 2012, the massacre of "Abbasseya 2", a peaceful sit-in was attacked by armed civilians under the same circumstances. For the second time, impassively observing the events, the authorities failed to ensure the safety of the peaceful protesters and field hospitals to which the wounded were transported with great difficulty. The provisional death toll is tragic: 7 dead according to the Ministry of Health, 11 according the Ministry of the Interior, and 20 according to volunteering field hospital doctors. Most of the victims were killed by live ammunition, while some died from knife wounds.

A large number of national and international civil society movements, human rights organisations, organisations protecting the right to peaceful assembly, as well as the “No to Military Trials for Civilians” campaign have expressed their indignation and strongly denounce the continuous use of violence against peaceful protests in Egypt.

We, the undersigned, therefore demand:

1.    The immediate end of all forms of violence against peaceful protesters in Egypt by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the Egyptian government.

2.    A guarantee by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces for the protection of peaceful protests against the violence of armed private civilian intermediates.

3.    The end to all military trials for civilians, and the transferral to all detainees whether waiting to be tried or already sentenced in military tribunals to civilian courts, without exceptions or restrictions.


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