Saturday, November 30, 2013

Police kill student, jail 2 prominent activists

Student killed as Egypt crackdown draws backlash

November 27, 2013

— A Cairo University student was killed Thursday in clashes with security forces, as a backlash grew over harsh sentences handed down to female Islamist demonstrators and a strict new protest law.

The engineering student was hit in the neck by a birdshot cartridge as police tried to push back Islamist students attempting to march from the university campus, the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported.

There were further clashes at the University of Alexandria on Egypt's north coast, where students stayed away from classes in three institutes in solidarity with 21 young Muslim Brotherhood women who received 11-year sentences on Wednesday, Al-Ahram said.

A misdemeanors court in the city had convicted the 21 on charges of illegal assembly, destroying property and carrying weapons at a protest they held in support of deposed President Mohammed Morsi.

The court sent seven of the convicted demonstrators, who were minors, to a juvenile home, while the remainder, mostly university students, were jailed.

Defense lawyers have said they will appeal.

Morsi's Brotherhood has condemned the verdicts as "false and unfair" and called for mass rallies Saturday to show solidarity with the girls.

Rights activists and some political figures also condemned the judgment.

"The continuation of issuing such politicized judgments by Egyptian judiciary members against activists in light of their political views (raises) ... doubts over the future of justice in Egypt," the Cairo-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information stated.

Controversy over the harsh legal steps against Islamists was further fanned by reports that a secondary school student had been detained for 15 days by prosecutors investigating an accusation that he had an Islamist symbol on his ruler.

Teachers at a secondary school in Kafr al-Sheikh province called police when they observed the Rabaa symbol - referring to the Cairo protest site where hundreds of Islamists were killed by security forces in August - on the pupil's ruler, the independent newspaper Al-Shorouq reported online.

Thousands of Morsi supporters have been detained since July when the army ousted him after mass street protests against him.

The military-installed authorities say the crackdown on Islamists is part of a campaign against terrorism allegedly incited by the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, police arrested a prominent activist wanted for organizing an unauthorized protest in what was seen as a first test of a strict new law on demonstrations.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah was arrested at his home, the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported, quoting security sources.

"Police broke into our house arrested (at)alaa and beaten me. They stole both our laptops and both our mobiles," his wife, Manal Bahy Eldin, wrote in English on Twitter.

Prosecutors had ordered the arrest of Abdel-Fattah and Ahmed Maher, founder of the revolutionary April 6 Movement, for allegedly organizing Tuesday's protest against a provision in the draft constitution allowing military courts to try civilians.

Both men have denied being organizers of the protest but said they would hand themselves in to prosecutors on Saturday.

Other activists arrested when police broke up the demonstration went on hunger strike after their detention was extended earlier Thursday, Mona Mamoun of the No Military Trials group told the German news agency dpa.

President Adly Mansour on Sunday ratified a law requiring organizers to give three days' notice of any protest to police, who may ban it if they believe it to be a threat to order.

*Photo of riot police firing into Cairo University campus, courtesy of Al-Masry Al-Youm

Read more here:

Court sentences 21 women & juveniles to 11 yrs in prison for pro-Morsi protests

Associated Press
Egypt: 21 women, juveniles sentenced to 11 years in prison for protest

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

Maggie Michael and Sarah El Deeb

CAIRO, Egypt -- Nearly two dozen Islamist women and girls, some as young as 15, were handed heavy prison sentences Wednesday for protesting in a court ruling that came a day after police beat and terrorized prominent female activists in a crackdown on secular demonstrators under a tough new anti-protest law.

The harshness of the sentences and the scenes a day earlier were new signs that the military-backed government is becoming bolder in silencing dissent, turning to abuses reminiscent of the Hosni Mubarak era.

Authorities have been justifying tougher measures as needed to fight terrorism and bring stability -- while they also appear to be exploiting divisions among secular democracy activists.

The crackdown is rearranging Egypt's political map after months when authorities were focused on crippling the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist backers of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
This week, security forces have moved against secular youth activists opposed to the military and police.

Some government supporters warn that its actions are widening the base of the opposition and could bring together Morsi supporters and the secular activists, though they bitterly oppose the Islamists and Morsi as equally authoritarian. The crisis is fragmenting the loose coalition of liberal and secular groups that supported the military in its July 3 removal of Morsi.

In a Mediterranean city of Alexandria courtroom, the 21 young female defendants flashed defiant smiles to the media, standing handcuffed in white head scarves and white prison uniforms in the defendants cage. They were convicted on charges related to holding an Oct. 31 protest in the city demanding Morsi's reinstatement.
Among them were seven teenagers aged 15 and 16, who were sentenced to prison terms until they turn 18.

The rest -- most aged 18 to 22 -- were sentenced to 11 years in prison. Six other Brotherhood members were sentenced to 15 years in prison for inciting the demonstrations.

"We thought they will get a month or something but we were shocked with the 11 years," defence lawyer al-Shimaa Ibrahim Saad said.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, said the sentences are meant to be a "deterrent" for the group's opposition to the military, vowing the verdict "will only increase the determination of the people to get their rights."

Meanwhile, hundreds of secular youth activists protested Wednesday in downtown Cairo against the government's clampdown on dissent. At the centre of the crisis is the law issued this week banning any protests or public political gatherings of more than 10 people without a prior police permit, imposing stiff fines and jail terms for violators.

"Those thinking the authoritarian pharaonic style works will find it doesn't anymore," said one protester, Laila Soueif. "There will be a third wave of the revolution much more violent than before. We are witnessing a turning point."

A day earlier, security forces broke up two small activists' protests in Cairo. Security forces beat and dragged women protesters outside parliament.

The images were reminiscent of the days of Mubarak, the autocrat who ruled the country for nearly 30 years and was ousted in a 2011 uprising. Under his rule, police at times focused on humiliating female protesters.

Similarly, under the rule of the military that followed his ouster, police broke up an anti-military protest, half-stripping a female protester and stomping on her chest.

After breaking up Tuesday's protest, police detained 14 women, then drove them in a van through the desert where they were dropped off on a remote road in the middle of the night, several of the women said. That too is a tactic used by Mubarak-era police to intimidate protesters.

"They want to terrorize us," said Mona Seif, a prominent activist who was among the 14 women. "I think the interior minister decided to escalate and tell everyone whose family was killed... beaten or anything that I am here, this is how I do business, and if you don't like it, beat your head against the wall."

In the face of the criticism, the Cabinet issued a strongly worded statement saying it is determined to implement the new protest law with "all firmness and force ... so freedom doesn't turn to chaos." It linked it to a "war on terrorism" -- pointing to the Brotherhood protests and violence by Islamic militants in Sinai.
"There are elements that want to spread domestic chaos in a desperate attempt to hurt the prestige of the state," it said.

The law comes ahead of an election season that will include a referendum on amendments to the Islamist-drafted, Morsi-era constitution. Authorities have shown they are eager to push through the new charter -- but they could face troubles in the January vote on two fronts.

Secular activists oppose the document because of wider powers it gives the military and the president. The Brotherhood rejects the entire amendment process -- along with the new government in general -- and although it has been weakened by a crackdown, it has kept up protests for over 20 weeks and can still mobilize against the document.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor general's office ordered 24 people who were arrested in Tuesday's activist protest to be held for four days for questioning on possible charges of violating the protest law.

In a statement, the prosecutors office accused the protesters of "chanting antagonistic slogans against the state" and refusing to end their rally. It said the demonstration "disturbed traffic and affected citizens' interests," terms mentioned in the protest law as violations justifying police action. It also accused them of attacking a police officer and taking his telephone.

The prosecutor also ordered the arrests of Alaa Abdel-Fattah and Ahmed Maher, two top activists, on suspicion of inciting others to break the protest law, the state news agency MENA said.

In a sign of the Islamists' eagerness to find a common cause with secular activists, the Brotherhood-led coalition supporting Morsi reached out to them Wednesday with a statement denouncing "brutal repression" of the protests the day before, saying the "youth of the revolution stand united."

The spokesman of the Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition, Diaa al-Sawi, said he will contact youth activists to co-ordinate rallies.

They met a quick rejection, however, from the youth activists, who joined the massive anti-Morsi protests that preceded his ouster.

"A message to the Muslim Brotherhood: we will not put our hands in the hands of those who betrayed and hijacked the revolution," said Hossam Moanis, spokesman of one activist group, the Popular Current.

*Photo by Amira Mortada, courtesy of AP/El Shorouk Newspaper

General strike, protests & clashes in Tunisia

Strikes, demos in Tunisia

November 27, 2013

SILIANA (AFP) — Angry protesters clashed with police yesterday and torched an office of Tunisia’s ruling party, as rising discontent and political deadlock prompted people to go on strike in three parts of the country.

In Siliana, southwest of Tunis, hundreds of residents gathered outside the governor’s office to remember more than 300 people injured one year ago, when demonstrations exploded into days of running clashes between police and protesters.

Violence broke out when dozens of them hurled rocks at the police, who responded by throwing rocks back and driving into the crowd to disperse them.

The protesters then headed towards the national guard headquarters where they continued to throw stones, as the police tried to keep them away by firing tear gas.

In the poor central region of Gafsa, hundreds of people attacked the Ennahda party headquarters after trying to break into the governor’s office, and police fired tear gas to scatter the crowd.

The protesters seized files and furniture from the office and burned them in the road, while preventing firemen from gaining access to the building.

“The people want the fall of the regime” and “The people of Gafsa are a free people” were among the slogans chanted. Siliana, Gafsa and the eastern Gabes region ground to a halt on yesterday in a general strike called to protest against poverty and lack of development.

Those were driving factors behind the popular uprising nearly three years ago that toppled former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. They continue to plague much of Tunisia, whose sluggish economic recovery has failed to create jobs or spur regional development.

A number of similar protests have resulted in regional offices of Ennahda being attacked in recent months.
Gafsa is strategic because of its phosphate mines, but remains among the poorest areas in Tunisia despite its natural wealth. It witnessed anti-government protests in 2008, under Ben Ali, that were savagely repressed.

Since the revolution, phosphate production has slumped because of disruptions caused by strikes and protests, and despite thousands of people being hired in the state-run sector as part of government efforts to defuse social tensions.

The catalyst for yesterday’s industrial action in Gafsa and Gabes was a government decision not to include them in the list of regions where five new university-linked hospitals are to be built.

*Photos courtesy of Fethi Belaid & AFP

Police assault tens of activists, arrest 50+


Egypt: 40 'April 6' movement activists arrested during rally Protesting new anti-rally law, military trials for civilians 

26 November

Police on Tuesday arrested 50 protesters, including 40 from the April 6 movement that led the uprising against ex president Hosni Mubarak, on charges of attacking police officers, Al-Ahram state newspaper reported.

The arrests took place as police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds who took the streets of the capital to protest a new law curtailing the right to demonstrate as well as an article in the new Constitution allowing for civilians to be tried in military tribunals. 

That article says civilians can be tried in military court in cases of attacks on military structures, property, vehicles, or personnel, and in military zones and border areas. It was voted in last Wednesday by 30 members of the so-called Committee of 50, which is made up of representatives from various sectors of Egyptian society and is in charge of laying the juridical framework of post-Morsi Egypt. There were seven votes against, two abstentions and 11 absences, Al-Ahram reported.

Military tribunals are not independent because they do not respect minimum due process criteria, and because any high-ranking officer can modify their rulings whether or not he ever sat on the jury, opposition leader Mohamed Fouda told Al-Ahram. 

The new public protest law says that police can disperse unauthorized rallies, that requests for authorization must be made three days prior, and that violators can be punished with fines and jail time.

Committee President Amr Mussa, an ex Arab League secretary and former presidential candidate, has called on the interior ministry to free the demonstrators. Several other Committee members said they will suspend themselves until the prisoners are let go. 

Egypt: Police disperse 1st demonstration since 'protest law' issued

Mon, November 25, 2013

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces on Monday fired tear-gas to disperse university students who had defied a new law that restricts demonstrations, the state news agency reported.

Students of Al-Azhar University and Assiut University in Assiut province, south of Cairo, staged a protest, chanting against the army and police in defiance of the new law, passed on Sunday, which bans protests without prior police approval.

In the first application of the new law, the Interior Ministry approved requests on Monday for protests by lawyers and political activists in front of the lawyers' syndicate in Cairo and the State Council in Giza, it said on its Facebook page.

In another statement, it issued a warning to supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, who it said were planning a protest on Tuesday in Giza province, near the pyramids, with the goal of disrupting traffic and harming tourism.

"The Interior Ministry is determined to implement the law and confront these attempts with all force and decisiveness according to what is guaranteed by the law," the ministry said.

Egypt has experienced some of its worst civilian violence in decades after the army, prompted by mass protests, ousted the country's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Mursi, on July 3. It has since introduced a political roadmap that will lead to new elections next year.

Hundreds of his supporters were killed when security forces stormed two pro-Mursi camps on August 14 and thousands were arrested under a crackdown against members of his Muslim Brotherhood group, whom the government accuses of supporting violence and terrorism.

The Muslim Brotherhood denies any links to violence and has called the army's ousting of Mursi a military coup.

Activists have described the new law on demonstrations as a violation of their right to protest and have vowed to defy it. Egypt has ousted two presidents in less than three years through mass protests.

"The unfair protest law will be broken," said Ahmed Mahler, whose April 6 movement helped lead the uprising against autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

*Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Gareth Jones

Egyptian government issues oppressive anti-protest law


Egypt: New protest law gives security forces free rein 

25 November 2013

A new law placing broad restrictions on protests in Egypt is a serious setback that poses a grave threat to freedom of assembly and gives security forces a free rein to use excessive force, including lethal force, against demonstrators, Amnesty International said today.

The law, signed yesterday by Egyptian President Adly Mansour, grants the Ministry of Interior wide discretionary powers over protests and lays out broad circumstances in which demonstrators can be found to violate the law.

“It is a dangerous sign that the first piece of legislation regulating rights and freedoms passed since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi curtails freedom of assembly and treats peaceful protesters like criminals. Not only does it allow the police to disperse peaceful demonstrations, but gives them the power to shoot protesters who pose no threat to the lives or safety of others”, said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

“Granting security forces complete discretion to ban protests or disperse them using excessive and lethal force is a serious setback for human rights in Egypt and paves the way for further abuse.”

In practice, the vague and overbroad grounds in the law will not only allow the authorities to prevent or forcibly disperse protests by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, but it will essentially allow for a ban on all opposition protests.

What is particularly worrying is that it gives the security forces a legal framework for the use of excessive force against any protesters deemed to have committed a “crime punishable by law”. In particular, the law provides for the police to use shotguns and rubber bullets, including to disperse peaceful protesters. Amnesty International has documented cases of protester deaths caused by the use of shotgun pellets, most recently on 6 October.

Moreover, the law allows security forces to respond to the use of firearms by protesters by “means proportionate to the level of threat to lives, money and property”. The inclusion of money and property in this provision contravenes international law and standards, which permit security forces to use firearms only when that is the sole means of defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury.

Amnesty International fears that security forces will make use of the authority given to them under the new law to disperse peaceful protests for not complying with the law’s requirements, including on broad grounds such as disrupting traffic and holding demonstrations in places of worship. Moreover, under the new law, any violent act committed by a small minority of protesters, or even just one, can be used as a legal justification for dispersing the entire demonstration.

“Instead of using the opportunity to break the pattern where the security forces repeatedly kill protesters with no consequences, the new law will further entrench abuse,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

The new law grants the Ministry of Interior powers to ban protests on grounds including “threats to security and peace”, “security or public order”, and “influencing the course of justice”, as well as delaying traffic or transport. Protesters found in violation will face up to five years in prison and/or hefty 100,000 Egyptian pound fines (USD$14, 513). These restrictions and punishments, which go well beyond the restrictions permissible under international law, will severely curtail the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly in Egypt.

The law also imposes blanket prohibitions on protests and public gatherings of a “political nature” in places of worship. Since the ‘25 January Revolution’, many protest marches began after prayers at mosques – a practice continued by Mohamed Morsi’s supporters since he was ousted in July 2013.

The Minister of Interior and Governors can also use the new law to declare public spaces off limits for protest. These include public areas surrounding presidential palaces, parliaments, ministries, diplomatic missions and embassies, court buildings, hospitals, prisons, police stations or points, military zones and heritage sites.

Protest organizers are required to submit complete plans for any gatherings of more than 10 people to the Ministry at least three days in advance. Taken together with the Ministry’s powers to cancel a demonstration or change its route, this in effect means that demonstrations can take place only with the Ministry’s prior authorization.

“Since the ‘25 January Revolution’, human rights groups and activists have been struggling to defend their hard-won space to protest. A government – which continues to pay lip service to the sacrifices made by protesters during that period – has now provided a legal cover to ban protests outright and give free rein to security forces, with their abysmal record of using excessive and lethal force, to forcibly disperse protesters at their whim,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“Instead of investigating the large number of killings of protesters since the ‘25 January Revolution’ and punishing those responsible, the current government seems to be rewarding security forces for their excesses and providing them with further legal means to trample on rights.”


On 24 October 2013, Amnesty International sent a memorandum to President Adly Mansour urging him not to sign into law the restrictive draft Law 107 of 2013 Regulating the Right to Public Gatherings, Processions and Peaceful Protests. While some amendments were introduced since that draft, the adopted law still breaches Egypt’s obligations under International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights to uphold freedom of assembly, and respect the right to life.

Efforts by Morsi’s government to pass similar restrictive legislation earlier this year were thwarted following an outcry by human rights NGOs, political parties, and other stakeholders.

Since 3 July, more than 1,300 people have died in protests and political violence in Egypt, many as a result of security forces using excessive and unwarranted lethal force. No adequate investigations have been launched into security force wrongdoing. Instead, thousands of pro-Morsi protesters have been arrested – many during the dispersal of sit-ins and protests – amid concerns on the lack of respect of due process rights.

*Photo by Ahmed Gamal courtesy of AFP/Getty Images

Government approves law criminalizing protests

Associated Press
Egypt approves law limiting protests



CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's interim president on Sunday banned public gatherings of more than 10 people without prior government approval, imposing hefty fines and prison terms for violators in a bid to stifle the near-constant protests roiling the country.

The new law is more restrictive than regulations used under the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in Egypt's 2011 uprising that marked the start of unrest in the country. Rights groups and activists immediately denounced it, saying it aims to stifle opposition, allow repressive police practices and keep security officials largely unaccountable for possible abuses.

"The law is giving a cover to justify repression by all means," said Bahy Eddin Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, one of the local groups that had campaigned against the law.

The military-backed government first floated the law in October. Interim President Adly Mansour approved a slightly amended version Sunday, which removed a proposed ban on sit-ins and a draft portion criminalizing "insulting the state."

The law requires three-day prior notice for protests. It grants security agencies the right to bar any protests or public gatherings, including election-related meetings of political parties, if they deem it a threat to public safety or order. Protesters can appeal the decision, but the law doesn't force judges to rule ahead of scheduled protests.

The new law also bars gatherings in places of worship, a regular meeting place for all protests in Egypt and one heavily used by Islamist groups. The law also says the police have the right — following warnings — to use force gradually, including the use of water cannons, tear gas and clubs.

Rights groups say the law also gives police unrestricted use of birdshot to put down protests, omitting an article that prohibited the use of force in excess.

Penalties in the law range from seven years in prison for using violence in a protest. It calls for one year in prison for covering the face in a country where many women wear full-face veils. It calls for a similar prison sentence for protesting in or around a place of worship.

The law sets fines of $44,000 for being violent at a protest. It sets fines of $1,500 for protesting without a permit, a hefty sum in Egypt, where the minimum monthly salary for public employees has finally been raised to 1,200 Egyptian pounds ($175).

The law comes 10 days after authorities lifted a three-month-long emergency order that granted security forces sweeping powers. Rights groups and political forces campaigned heavily against the law.

"The law is labelled one that regulates protests rights, but in essence it is regulates the repression of the right to protest," Hassan said.

Hassan said government officials and supportive media outlets promoted the law as means to halt protests by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was removed by the military in July. Morsi's supporters hold near-daily protests that often turn violent, though the size of the demonstrations have dropped due to an intense security crackdown targeting Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Shaima Awad, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, said protests would continue, calling the new law "nonsense."

"How can I notify them three days before the protests and give the names of organizers? It would be like handing myself in," Award said. The law "unifies revolutionaries afresh. ... We can now all agree that the military authorities are trying to strangle any voice that says no. We won't accept and others won't accept that either."

A similar law to regulate protests was hotly contested when Morsi was in office. It never passed.

Gamal Eid, a civil rights lawyer, said Mansour's approval of the law "wasted a right that was seized through much bloodshed" in the past three years.

"I would have imagined that as a temporary president he would have issued a law that grants rights instead of denies them," Eid said.

Hassan said the protest law, along with a proposal allowing for civilians to be tried by military courts and other legislation aimed at combating terrorism, "are all steps to reinforce the basis of the police state that was threatened after the January 2011 uprising."

"The law can't be viewed separately from what happens in other domains," he said. "The worst is yet to come."

Meanwhile Sunday, a public prosecutor referred Mubarak to a new trial on charges of embezzling some $18 million worth of state funds to build and renovate family homes. The prosecutor also referred two of Mubarak's sons, two government officials and two contractors to stand trial with the ex-leader.

No date for the trial has been set yet. Mubarak already faces a retrial for his alleged role in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him and separate corruption charges.

Police kill two protesters by Tahrir Sq. on anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud massacre

Daily News Egypt

At least two killed on Mohamed Mahmoud anniversary

Protesters attacked by security after attempting to break into Arab League headquarters

November 20, 2013

Rana Muhammad Taha

At least two protesters were killed in clashes which erupted in the vicinity of Tahrir Square on Tuesday on the second anniversary of the 2011 Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes.

Security forces broke into Tahrir Square in the early hours of Wednesday, clearing it of all protesters.
Ahmed Al-Ansary, head of the Egyptian Ambulance Authority, announced that an anonymous 18-year old died at Qasr Al-Eini Hospital from a birdshot wound to the head, reported state-run news agency MENA.

Al-Ansary added to state-run Al-Ahram that a 23-year old, Mahmoud Abdel Hakeem, died after being shot in the head. Fifty were also injured as a result of the clashes, including security personnel, according to the Ambulance Authority spokesman.

The FECU Revolution Movement, a student movement at Cairo University’s Faculty of Engineering, said that Abdel Hakeem was a fourth year student at the faculty. The movement published the testimony of other students who allegedly were with Abdel Hakeem at the time he died.

The students claimed they were near Mohamed Mahmoud Street when they saw teargas canisters being fired at Qasr Al-Eini Street.

“We moved towards the scene of the clashes to see what was happening … one of us got a birdshot wound in his arm,” the students’ testimony read. The students claimed they then heard three shots; one penetrated a student’s leg, another landed in Abdel Hakeem’s eye.

The students said Abdel Hakeem was first taken to Al-Munira hospital, where one doctor examined him and said the wound was caused by live ammunition. The doctor recommended Abdel Hakeem be taken to Qasr Al-Eini Hospital, where Abdel Hakeem was admitted to the intensive care unit before he died.

Clashes erupted outside the Arab League headquarters near Tahrir Square on Tuesday evening after a group of protesters provoked security forces, according to eyewitness Sherif Hany. Hany said protesters, mostly minors, were chanting against and cursing the Ministry of Interior, pelting rocks and empty bottles at police and army forces standing next to the headquarters. He added that barbed wires separated the protesters from security forces.

“Another group of protesters tried to create a buffer zone and push the attacking protesters away,” Hany said, adding that an army officer also tried to calm the protesters down. “What I found weird was that a group of protesters were trying to create the impression that there were clashes by clanking on iron poles and running towards the square.”

Hany retreated from the scene of the skirmishes into Tahrir Square, when he saw teargas being fired at the protesters back at the headquarters. Heading back, Hany said he saw several protesters injured with birdshot; he could not tell where the birdshot was coming from.

In a statement released on Tuesday night, the Ministry of Interior accused a group of “rioters” of attacking and trying to break into the Arab League headquarters. The ministry said protesters broke some of the headquarters’ doors and windows, adding that security forces cordoned the headquarters and were able to protect it from being stormed.

The ministry said it arrested 14 “rioters”, one of whom it said was in possession of a birdshot gun. It accused the “rioters” of using birdshot, fireworks, and Molotov cocktails against security forces. The ministry said it addressed the attacks with the “appropriate amount of teargas”.

The Ministry of Interior also announced arresting four from Abdel Moneim Riad Square near Tahrir Square. At the time of their arrest, they were allegedly in possession of birdshot, marble shots and live ammunition, three firearms and nine Molotov cocktails.

Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi stressed the importance of “firmly dealing with saboteurs who aim to shake Egypt’s security and stability”, reported DPA, citing cabinet spokesman Hany Salah. El-Beblawi reportedly condemned the acts of violence which the “saboteurs resorted to”.

Thousands of rival protesters demonstrated in downtown Cairo on Tuesday to commemorate the second anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes in 2011. Tahrir Square was occupied by demonstrators supporting Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Meanwhile, protesters on Mohamed Mahmoud Street chanted against the Muslim Brotherhood, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and the Ministry of Interior.

Clashes between security personnel and protesters lasted for five consecutive days on Mohamed Mahmoud Street in November 2011, claiming at least 50 lives.


*Photo by Mohamed el-Shahed courtesy of AFP

International attempts to prosecute Egypt's coup leaders

Middle East Monitor

International lawyers seek to prosecute Egyptian coup officials

Sunday, 17 November 2013 

A team of international lawyers in London has announced that they are in possession of evidence incriminating officials from the Egyptian coup regime in crimes against humanity. The lawyers noted that they have been instructed by the Freedom and Justice Party and members of the Egyptian Shura Council (disbanded by the coup) with a view to the prosecution of the said officials.

The legal team includes Britain's former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken Macdonald; the former UN Special Envoy for Human Rights, Professor Richard Falk; and UK-based human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield, QC, who represented Mohamed Al Fayed after the death of the late Diana, Princess of Wales. Heading the team is Tayab Ali, from ITN Solicitors in London.

Speaking at a press conference in the British capital, the team listed the charges against the officials, including murder, torture and the forced disappearance of persons, all of which are enough to prosecute the accused in local and international courts, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. According to the lawyers, these charges cannot be dropped on grounds of limitation.

The legal team did not reveal any details of the evidence in their possession or the list of defendants due to the effects that would have on the course of the case. They did, however, confirm that they have enough statements from victims and witnesses, as well as documents from sources inside and outside Egypt.

The lawyers are also aiming to freeze the licences issued by Western countries allowing them to export arms to the army and police in Egypt. They announced the establishment of a hotline to receive more evidence about the crimes that have taken place in the country since the coup. The hotline, said Tayab Ali, will include the facility to send e-mails for additional evidence to be received from victims and their families or anyone else who can throw more light on what he described as "the crimes and massacres committed by the Egyptian authorities".

Moreover, Ali told Al-Jazeera that the legal team is seeking to find out everyone involved in the crimes against humanity and that these individuals will not get away with their crimes and will be prosecuted. The team would also like this case to result in the end of peaceful civilians being targeted by the coup authorities.

He added that they are aiming to enlighten the entire international community, including lawyers and governments, about the nature of the team's mission so that other investigations may be started. Ali expressed his team's willingness to share their evidence with any prestigious institution or government investigating what is happening in Egypt.

According to Michael Mansfield, the entire world witnessed the massacres that were committed in Egypt, live on television. As such, he told Al-Jazeera, his efforts won't be focused on proving that the crimes were committed, because this is a given. Instead, they will focus on the process of examining the evidence to identify those responsible for the crimes.

On the issue of internationalising the issue, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a spokesman for the FJP's Foreign Relations Committee, said that they are refusing to internationalise the Egyptian issue and refuse foreign interventions, but asked, "What do you do if the judiciary is politicised?"

He considered this step as a search for justice in any suitable jurisdiction, and not an internationalisation of Egypt's internal political affairs. "We want those who murdered fellow Egyptians in Rabaa Al-Adawiyya, Al-Nahda, Ramses and all the other squares to be brought to justice."

The legal team have discussed the possibility of prosecuting the criminals in local and international courts. They announced that they have informed the Egyptian military authorities that the investigations have started and have requested relevant evidence to be handed over.