Rights watchdog's Rabaa report 'biased': Egypt
By Hazem Badr, Tuesday, August 12, 2014
CAIRO – The Egyptian government on Tuesday criticized a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that called for an investigation into the role of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, then army chief, in the murder of supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi last summer.
"The Egyptian government was not surprised by the report, which reflected the continuation of the organization's subjective tendencies towards Egypt," Egypt's State Information Service said in a statement.
It said the government rejects the "biased" report of the New York-based HRW, which was unveiled Tuesday at a Beirut press conference one day after Egyptian authorities had banned a HRW team from entering Egypt.
In the report, which is based on a year-long investigation, HRW accused Egyptian security forces of "systematic" murder of 1150 demonstrators, suggesting the killings "likely" amounted to crimes against humanity.
The 195-page report, entitled "All According to Plan: The Rabaa Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt," documents how police and army personnel opened fire on crowds of demonstrators opposed to the military's July 3 ouster of Morsi – Egypt's first elected civilian president – during six demonstrations between July 5 and August 17 of last year.
It called for the investigation of a dozen Egyptian officials, including al-Sisi and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, for their roles in "one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history."
"The [HRW] is not licensed to operate in Egypt, which renders all its interviews with eyewitnesses to the violence a blatant violation of international law's principle of state sovereignty," said the government.
It said the international rights watchdog depended on "unknown, biased witnesses who cannot be trusted."
The government also accused HRW of "willfully ignoring the death of hundreds of security forces, as well as civilians, in systematic terrorist attacks planned by those that the report refers to as 'peaceful protesters'."
HRW says it interviewed more than 200 witnesses, including protesters, doctors, local residents and independent journalists; visited each of the protest sites during or immediately after the violence; and reviewed physical evidence, video footage and relevant statements by public officials.
It said it had written to relevant Egyptian government ministries in an effort to hear their account of events, but had received no response.
The rights group also confirmed in its report that some protesters had used firearms in a few instances, but added that this did "not justify the grossly disproportionate and premeditated lethal attacks on overwhelmingly peaceful protesters."
Morsi was removed from office by the army – and subsequently imprisoned – in July of last year following protests against his one year in power.
Al-Sisi, widely seen as the chief orchestrator of Morsi's ouster, was announced the winner of a presidential election conducted in May.
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