Joint press statement: Impartial investigation necessary before Egypt spirals into violence

Press Release

9 July 2013

The undersigned organizations express their deep regret and strong condemnation of the excessive force used by army and security forces against supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi who were staging a sit-in in front of the premises of the Republican Guard. This violence left at least 51 dead and over 400 injured, according to official statements from the Ministry of Health.

The undersigned organizations insist that responses to demonstrations must be comply with international standards, even if demonstrations witness violence or the use of firearms.  International standards do not allow the excessive use of lethal force, nor do they justify the intentional murder of large numbers of protestors by snipers belonging to police or military forces. The use of force must not exceed what required to prevent the use of violence by armed individuals.  Such standards apply to the incident described above, which was referred to in a statement by the Armed Forces as an attempt to storm the premises of the Republican Guard.

The undersigned organizations emphasize that security forces and the army bear a responsibility to provide protection to all protestors, including both supporters and opponents of the deposed president.

At the same time, the undersigned organizations strongly condemn the ongoing incitement to violence and killing by the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters as well as their incitement to participate in widespread clashes, which only serve to further deepen the political crisis in Egypt. We condemn all forms of violence committed by some segments of Islamist groups, including the violence committed in Manial and Maspero areas of Cairo and in the Sidi Gaber area in Alexandria.

We also condemn the violations which have targeted the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters in Sidi Beshr, El Zagazig, and elsewhere, as well as the incitement against them by some media outlets.

The undersigned organizations stress the need to expose the truth of what happened during that clashes that occurred at dawn yesterday and to hold all parties which were involved to account. We stress that a fair, independent investigation into this massacre will require the participation of independent human rights organizations and the immediate release of the findings to the public.  The participation of such organizations is particularly critical in light of the politicization of the Egyptian judiciary under the rule of both Mubarak and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and in the wake of the practices of the Muslim Brotherhood and the deposed president over the last year which further undermined the credibility of the judiciary and the investigating authorities, dividing judges and making the judiciary a victim of political and ideological polarization.

The investigating committee should be comprised of judicial and rights figures known for their professionalism and impartiality, in order to win the respect of all parties and avoid challenges to its final report. We urge all parties, including the Muslim Brotherhood and its partisans, to support and welcome this demand.

Once again, we urge that all forms of incitement to violence and murder must cease and that all parties must refrain from undermining the civic peace. The continued incitement to bloodshed will make it practically impossible to re-launch a comprehensive political process leading to the fulfillment of the revolution's goals in Egypt. 

Signatory organizations

1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

2. Andalus Institute for Tolerance & Anti-violence Studies 

3. Arab Penal Reform Organization

4. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information

5. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression

6. Center for Appropriate Communication Techniques

7. Center for Egyptian Women’s Legal Aid

8. Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights

9. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

10. Habi Center for Environmental Rights

11. Hisham Mubarak Law Center

12. Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners

13. Land Center for Human Rights

14. Masriyon Against Religious Discrimination

15. Nazra for Feminist Studies