The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights released a statement Thursday condemning the use of excessive force by the security forces dispersing sit-ins by Muslim Brotherhood supporters around Rabea al-Adaweya Mosque and at Nahda Square on Wednesday. It also condemned the Brotherhood for inciting sectarian violence and attacking political opponents.
Signed by nine human rights organizations, it pointed out that in the eyes of international laws on the right to peaceful assembly, the fact that some sit-in participants and leaders committed crimes, possessed weapons, and engaged in violence did not give security forces the right to exact collective punishment and use excessive force.
It said that on Wednesday the largest number of people were killed in the shortest time span during political assembly since 28 January 2011, which will potentially increase terrorist actions and put more people’s lives at risk in the coming months.
It also warned of the gravity of escalating sectarian incitement in several governorates, which has resulted in attacks on dozens of churches since the dispersal of the sit-ins.
The statement further questioned the competence of Egypt’s interim political decision makers and security apparatus.
The violent dispersal left over six hundred dead and upwards of four thousand injured, while dozens of bodies were torched in still unexplained circumstances, it said.
The statement was signed by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Human Rights Associations for the Assistance of Prisoners, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the EIPR, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, Hisham Mubarak Law Center, Arab Penal Reform Organization, The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, and Nasra for Feminist Studies.
It said the security apparatus failed to take the necessary legal measures to protect the country’s citizens, particularly residents and passersby in Nahda Square and Rabea al-Adaweya. One result of this was journalists being killed, tortured, and assaulted with impunity, it said.
It also said decision makers did not properly consider containing retaliatory violence by the Brotherhood and its supporters, despite attacks against Christians and the public incitement to terrorism beginning several weeks ago.
In retaliation against the excessive force used against the sit-ins, the Brotherhood and supporters terrorized citizens nationwide and attempted to storm several government facilities and killed some officers, it said. They attacked churches in Upper Egypt and Sinai, destroying and burning several, and threatened Christians with more violence.
While the human rights organizations previously warned the Brotherhood against such actions and demanded they halt incitement toward Christians, the group also showed no concern for the lives of the citizens it claims to be legitimately empowered to govern, the statement said. It said the Brotherhood has decided to pursue political violence and terrorism rather than self-criticism and recognition of its failure to maintain the trust of the citizens who voted for it.
It accused the group of trying to push the country toward a civil war since that possibility arose last November.
The human rights groups had several demands.
They urged Brotherhood members and supporters to immediately halt violence and incitement to violence against Christians and political opponents. They asked Brotherhood supporters to denounce leaders who incited or practiced violence, accept the political outcome of the 30 June uprising, and return to peaceful political dialogue.
The statement said the threat of terrorism and civil war may lead authorities to take greater measures to protect citizens’ lives, but that instead they must urgently adopt a legitimate plan to contain the violence and restore the political process and dialogue. It reminded the post-30 June political authority of the need to avoid the mistakes of the previous regimes, which disregarded the demands for security and political reform.
Finally, the organizations renewed their demand for independent investigations of the extrajudicial killing of citizens since 3 July and the prosecution of those directly involved. They demanded investigations into the deaths and the burning of corpses during the dispersal of the sit-ins, and into Brotherhood leaders and supporters involved in inciting religious hatred, violence, torture, killing, and attacks on journalists.
[This article originally appeared on Mada Masr.]