Amnesty accuses Egyptian authorities of trampling on human rights

Thursday 23 January 2014 21.56
Amnesty said Egyptian authorities 'quash dissent and trample on human rights' with mass arrests
Amnesty said Egyptian authorities 'quash dissent and trample on human rights' with mass arrests

Egypt has seen state violence on an "unprecedented scale" since the army deposed Islamist president Mohammed Mursi last July following mass protests against his rule, Amnesty International has said in a report.

Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi responded by saying critics were projecting "a distorted picture" by ignoring attacks on the security forces that have spiked since Mr Mursi's removal.

The Amnesty report came out two days before the third anniversary of the mass uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

It said the authorities "quash dissent and trample on human rights" with mass arrests, curbs on the freedom of expression and a new law that severely limits the right to protest.

About 1,400 people have been killed in political violence since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mr Mursi, mostly due to "excessive force used by security forces", the international human rights group said.

Since Mr Mursi's removal, shootings and bombings targeting the police and army have also become commonplace.

The state has declared itself to be in a war on terror.

"There has been a distorted picture lately ... a fixation on activists going to prison," Mr Beblawi said during an interview with CNN at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"There are killings of police. No one talks about it. There is no balanced picture," he said.

In the latest attack, masked gunmen riding motorcycles killed five Egyptian policemen at a checkpoint south of Cairo today, the Interior Ministry said.

Interim head of state Adly Mansour, addressing a gathering of policemen in Cairo, said the state would win in the battle with militants, likening it to the violence waged against the state by Islamists in the 1990s.

He also said Egypt was "entering a new era" that would once and for all end "a police state".

One person died and three people were injured today in clashes between security forces and Muslim Brotherhood students at Alexandria University, state media said.

On 14 August, the bloodiest day since Mr Mursi's ousting, security forces stormed pro-Mursi protest camps in Cairo with bulldozers, using live ammunition and killing hundreds.

Thousands more have been arrested, including most of the leadership of Mr Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood, which the government declared a "terrorist organisation" on Christmas Day.

The group denies using violence.

Egypt's interim government said it is committed to democracy and human rights. It accuses the Brotherhood of carrying out acts that threaten national security.

Amnesty said: "Security forces have been given free rein to act above the law and with no prospect of being held to account for abuses."

Activists who are seen as symbols of the 2011 protest movements against Mr Mubarak have been jailed for breaking a law introduced last November that makes demonstrations without prior police approval illegal.

Keywords: cairo, egypt