Egypt urged to investigate fresh protest violence

The Egyptian authorities must immediately launch an independent and impartial investigation into the conduct of security forces at demonstrations, Amnesty International said amid continuing protests in central Cairo.An Amnesty International team in Cairo witnessed riot police charging demonstrators in Tahrir Square, firing tear gas randomly, beating protesters with sticks and firing shotguns. Some protesters threw rocks and occasionally petrol bombs. The Ministry of Health and Population said more than a thousand people were injured, including some 40 members of the security forces. “This heavy-handed response is reminiscent of the violence in January and is a chilling reminder of their inability to deal with protests, ahead of calls for mass demonstrations on 8 July. This latest incident spotlights the urgent need for reform of the security forces so Egyptians can begin to trust them,” said Amnesty International.“Many want to see law and order maintained but this cannot be done by cracking down on protesters or by ignoring the demands for justice from victims of violence during mass protests earlier this year.” The demonstration appears to have been triggered by the security forces’ violent dispersal of relatives of those killed during the “25 January Revolution” yesterday near Al Balloon Theater in Giza, where a commemoration ceremony for the victims of the uprising was due to take place. They were seeking to encourage more families to join them in a sit-in protest they had been holding in front of the state television building in Cairo since 24 June.  The mother of one of the victims, Ahmed Zein Al Abidin, from Al-Amiria in Cairo, was reportedly arrested during the dispersal. Amal Shaker Mohamed Seliman, told Amnesty International she was insulted and punched in Al-Agouza Police Station by a police officer. Her son Mohamed Zein Al Abidin, aged 22, is now facing a military prosecution after being detained during the violent dispersal. His mother told Amnesty International he was beaten up in the street by security forces and men in plain clothes. Families of the victims and their supporters have been frustrated with how the trials of former senior officials have been conducted, and the fact that lower-ranking policemen suspected of killing protesters remain in their jobs. Clashes erupted yesterday evening between security forces and protesters in Tahrir Square and the streets leading to the Ministry of Interior building. They continued all day today. Amnesty International was able to interview medical staff as well as injured protesters and security forces.The protesters’ injuries included buckshot wounds to the back, arms and eyes, as well as burns and wounds caused by tear gas canisters. Security forces suffered from burns and bruises, as well as wounds to the head and leg caused by being hit with rocks.  “We are also concerned about reports that protesters arrested during the clashes might face trial before military courts,” said Amnesty International. “Civilians should never be tried in military courts and any protesters being held should receive a fair trial that meets international standards or be released.”