900 Egyptians Were Killed By The State in Just One Day. Who Should Take The Blame?

Published August 14th, 2017 - 06:34 GMT
Activists gathered to protest the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi
Activists gathered to protest the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi

This week marks the fourth anniversary of the death of at least 900 protesters at the hands of the Egyptian security forces.

The activists were slaughtered during the violent dispersal of protest camps set up to oppose the ouster of the country's first democratically-elected leader, Mohammed Morsi weeks earlier on July 3rd 2013.

Military officials claimed that the settlements at Rabaa al Adawiya and al-Nahda squares in the Egyptian capital had become hotbeds of extremism and threatened national security.

On August 14 2013, the military regime stepped in determined to clear the areas of protesters by any means necessary.

In just a few hours at least 900 civilians were brutally killed and thousands more injured with some estimates placing the number even higher.

Those killed included protesters and Egyptian and foreign media professionals with many other journalists detained and imprisoned for doing their job on the day.

Internationally, many countries condemned the event, widely known as the Rabaa massacre while human rights organisations were quick the lambast abuses by the country's security forces.

Within months, the Muslim Brotherhood had been declared illegal and branded as a terrorist organisation by the government in Cairo. Meanwhile a harsh crackdown was launched against those who protested to call for justice for their friends and relatives killed during the clashes.

In January 2016, the four-fingered symbol which had become synonymous with the call for justice was banned and effectively meant that anybody who spoke out against the massacre faced jail and a fine of up to 30,000 Egyptian pounds.

"President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's regime has been determined to wipe out all memory of the massacre of the summer of 2013. The dark legacy of this failure to bring anyone to justice is that Egypt's security forces today feel that they will not be held accountable for committing human rights violations," said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

 

 

Internationally, many countries condemned the event, widely known as the Rabaa massacre while human rights organisations were quick the lambast abuses by the country’s security forces.

Within months, the Muslim Brotherhood had been declared illegal and branded as a terrorist organisation by the government in Cairo. Meanwhile, a harsh crackdown was launched against those who protested to call for justice for their friends and relatives killed during the clashes.

In January 2016, the four-fingered symbol which had become synonymous with the call for justice was banned and effectively meant that anybody who spoke out against the massacre faced jail and a fine of up to 30,000 Egyptian pounds.

“President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's regime has been determined to wipe out all memory of the massacre of the summer of 2013. The dark legacy of this failure to bring anyone to justice is that Egypt’s security forces today feel that they will not be held accountable for committing human rights violations,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

Four years on, not a single official has been held accountable for the hundreds of civilian deaths which took place on that day.

Media outlets in Egypt have towed the government line that the massacre was necessary to combat “potential terrorism” and pointing to the fact that police officers were also killed during the clashes as evidence that the thousands inside the square were violent extremists.

“The Rabaa dispersal marks a defining turning point for human rights in Egypt. In the years since then, security forces have stepped up violations and varied their methods, carrying out enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions on a scale never seen before,”Bounaim added.

Today, hundreds of families suffer in silence without justice for their dead and many others are afraid to speak about the events of August 14, 2013, for fear of government reprisals or being labeled an Islamist, a brand which can have deadly consequences under the current regime.

“The level of disparity between the rampant impunity enjoyed by security forces who took part in the Rabaa dispersal on one hand, and the mass persecution of Muslim Brotherhood supporters who participated in protest as well as journalists reporting that day, is shocking,” Bounaim added.


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