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Human rights organisations condemn break up of peaceful protest, mistreatment of demonstrators in Cairo

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 12 March 2011 - Egyptian human rights organizations, signatories to this statement, said that the 9 March break up of a peaceful sit at Cairo's Tahrir Square should not pass without sanctions against all those involved, regardless of their position or stature. The Supreme Council of the armed forces must start a fair and transparent investigation into this crime. A number of young people who have been tortured said that Egyptian army officers were among the perpetrators of this brutal crime.

Thugs armed with sticks and swords started pouring into Tahrir Square at noon on 9 March, and began harassing protesters who were calling for political reform. Around 3:00 pm, the harassment turned to violent attacks. Members of the Army then arrested dozens of young people and detained them near the Egyptian Museum. A number of people were reportedly tortured, including activists and journalists.

Despite the release of some detainees, many are still held in military detention locations. Moreover, FDD lawyers as well as others have not been able to ascertain the fate of these detainees. Apparently many of them will be facing military trials and are likely to be harshly sentenced. ANHRI recalls the case of political activist Amr Beheiri, who was prosecuted after storming Tahrir Square on 25 February, and sentenced on 1 March to 5 years in a military prison.

Some young people who have been released have documented their accounts of torture. Their bodies had marks of torture and foreign journalists filmed scenes of torture showing a military SS officer torturing a citizen ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jsw30PBn_uE ).

Some citizens have dismissed the torture allegations or claim that those who were tortured are thugs. The undersigned organizations assert that torture is an unacceptable crime and cannot be justified regardless of the perpetrators and the victims.

The signatories said, "The revolution started on 25 January, national police day, a clear signal that torture is completely unacceptable. This crime is still being committed and the perpetrators deserve a harsher punishment. The junta owes the Egyptian people an apology as they are ruling for the moment."

"We do not accept the argument that any Egyptian should be tried for expressing an opinion in a peaceful manner. We cannot tolerate unfair military trials for civilians. We consider that the trial of civilian youth before military tribunals is wrong. On the other hand, criminal police officers and corrupt officials are still at large or are tried before civil courts. This blows away the aspirations of Egyptians regarding the rule of law, equality under the law and democracy for which they have had a revolution," added the human rights organizations.

Signed,
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture
Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence
Egyptian Association for Community Participation Enhancement
Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
FDD Egypt
Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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