Amnesty: Egypt witnessed ‘unprecedented’ scale of violence after revolt

The international human rights group says about 1,400 Egyptians were killed since Mursi’s ouster

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Egypt has witnessed an “unprecedented scale” of violence that killed about 1,400 people since the ouster of President Mohammad Mursi in July, Agence-France Presse reported Amnesty International as saying on Thursday.

“Egypt has witnessed a series of damaging blows to human rights and state violence on an unprecedented scale over the last seven months,” Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa said in a report.

Around 1,400 people have been killed in political violence since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Mohammad Mursi, mainly due to “excessive force used by security forces,” the international human rights group report read.

The report comes amid preparation to mark the anniversary of the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

“Three years on, the demands of the ‘25 January Revolution’ for dignity and human rights seem further away than ever,” the report added.

Sahraoui added that unless the military backed government changed course, “Egypt is likely to find its jails packed with unlawful detained prisoners and its morgues and hospitals with yet more victims of arbitrary and abusive force by its police.”

The authorities who defended the removal of Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president, on the back of mass street protests against his one-year turbulent rule, passed in November a new protest law that bans all but police-sanctioned rallies.

"The authorities must loosen their stranglehold on civil society and allow peaceful protests and other avenues of lawful dissent," Sahraoui said.

"Their current policies are a betrayal of all the aspirations of bread, freedom and social justice" of the 2011 revolution.

Sahraoui also charged the security forces for using “excessive” force in dealing with protests staged by supporters of Mursi’s who continue to demand his reinstatement.

By allowing the security forces to “operate with impunity, the authorities have emboldened them,” Sahraoui said.

“The cycle of abuse will only be broken when the rule of law applies to all, regardless of their rank, and political affiliations,” she said.

This has been coupled with attacks on journalists and media freedom as well as raids on non-governmental organizations, she added.

“This is a deliberate attempt to make it more difficult for them to operate in Egypt and continue their work documenting and reporting on state abuses,” Sahraoui said, adding that the judiciary too was being used as a “tool of repression”.

Since early 2011, political upheaval in Egypt has unseated two presidents, Mubarak and his successor Mohammad Mursi, and unleashed unrest that has deeply polarised the Arab world’s most populated country.

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