Almost eight months after the violent dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adawyia sit-in by the coup government which had overthrown Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) in Egypt announced the publication of its report on the events surrounding the breakup of the Rabaa sit-in.
The ICFR wishes to comment on the contents of the report by making the following observations:
1- NCHR members were appointed by the current regime in Egypt which casts doubts on its legitimacy.
2- Several members of the NCHR have resigned (Husam Bahjat and Najad Al-Bur’i) over what they perceived as questionable and biased conduct of the Council, especially its record of providing the authorities with a legal cover to commit more atrocities.
3- Several members on the Council cast doubts on the credibility of the report. One member, Muktar Nouh described it as ‘disastrous’ and revealed that he was not privy to any of its contents despite his position on the Council. Mohammed Abdul-Qadoos, another member, confirmed that the report reflects the views of only a few Council members.
Observations about the report’s contents:
1- The report relied completely on the narrative of the security forces and refrained from including eyewitness reports from those who were present at the sit-in, according to Nasser Amin, the Council member who read out the report. Amin said that the Fact-Finding Commission faced difficulties in gathering information and data from all parties. The report, for example, relied on the security forces’ side of the story regarding reports that ambulances were not allowed to enter the Rabaa square and that the field hospital was burnt down with bodies still inside.
2- In evaluating the violations committed inside the sit-in camp, the Commission’s report relied on other reports published by the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights headed by NCHR member Hafez Abu-Sa’dah who is notorious for his deep hostility towards President Mohammed Morsi. This alone is enough to cast doubts on the professionalism and neutrality of the report. Moreover, the NCHR’s report did not take into consideration any of the reports published by international organisations.
3- The report relied on the ministry of interior’s version of events and even used the ministry’s own words in describing alleged crimes committed by protesters despite the lack of any evidence to back these claims such as allegations that protesters ‘tortured’ opponents at Rabaa.
4- The report used the word ‘allegations’ to refer to the victims’ and their families complaints of murder, torture, burning of bodies and arrests. Detainees are still in police custody, while charred bodies of Rabaa protesters were buried in unmarked graves.
5- We have not been able to determine which international laws the report invoked to justify indiscriminate shooting of live ammunition at protesters, deliberate targeting by snipers, burning of bodies and other atrocities which have been confirmed by reports and testimonies.
6- The use of legal jargon and references to international laws are meant to mislead public opinion into thinking that the government acted legally. It is a fact well-known by now that the Egyptian government’s actions were in breach of all national and international laws that regulate the use of force.
7- The report contained a number of contradictions. In one part, it alleges that the use of force conformed with international standards while in another it admitted that security forces committed some breaches in the use of force. Testimonies revealed that security forces shot indiscriminately at protesters leading to the death and injury of many innocent civilians.
The International Coalition for Freedoms and Rights (ICFR) rejects the NCHR report and regards the NCHR as lacking all credibility and professionalism. The ICFR calls upon international human rights organisations to reject the report and requests that the UN Security Council form a neutral fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Egypt since the 3rd of July 2013. The ICFR also urges the International Criminal Court to speed up the process of reviewing the cases filed by Egyptian victims of the massacres and their families to ensure perpetrators of those crimes against humanity be brought to justice, especially the crimes committed at Rabaa and Annahda Squares.
The International Coalition for Freedoms and Rights
Thursday 6th of March 2014.
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The International Coalition for Freedoms and Rights sends an international human rights and legal delegation to attend President Mohammed Morsi s trial and document human rights violations.
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