Hundreds of supporters of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi have taken to the streets across the country as the second anniversary of the mass killing of anti-regime protesters by security forces approaches.
Pro-Morsi demonstrators held the rallies in the capital Cairo as well as Alexandria and Giza on Friday to condemn the 2013 massacre. Similar protests were also reported to be held in other major cities across the country.
On August 14, 2013, Egyptian security forces raided two protest camps in Cairo, one at al-Nahda Square and a larger one at Rabaa al-Adwiya Square. Protesters had been holding a weeks-long sit-in at the campsites in protest against the coup that toppled Morsi in July of the same year.
Using tanks, bulldozers, ground forces, helicopters, and snipers, police and army personnel mercilessly attacked the makeshift protest encampment, where demonstrators, including women and children, had camped for over 45 days.
Human Rights Watch described the horrible incident as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history”, and reported that a minimum of 817 people -- and more likely at least 1,000 -- were killed in Rabaa al-Adwiya Square.
According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, 638 people lost their lives on the tragic day, of which 595 were civilians and 43 police officers. Nearly 4,000 others were also wounded during the attacks.
A higher death toll was reported by the Muslim Brotherhood movement and National Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy, reporting the toll from the Rabaa al-Adawiya Square to be about 2,600.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, was toppled on July 3, 2013 in a military coup led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the country’s current president and the then army commander.
The UN Human Rights Council has repeatedly voiced concern over the Egyptian security forces’ heavy-handed crackdown and the killing of peaceful anti-government protesters.