Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged the UN Human Rights Council to establish an international commission of inquiry into the brutal clearing of the Rab’a al-Adawiya sit-in and other mass killings of protesters by the Egyptian security forces in 2013.
The Egyptian security forces are believed to have killed more than 1,000 people at a mass sit-in at Cairo’s Rab’a al-Adawiya Square on 14 August 2013, without providing any safe exit, in what HRW claims probably amounted to crimes against humanity.
Using armoured personnel carriers and snipers, the soldiers allegedly opened fire with live ammunition on the crowd of 85,000, who were protesting July’s ouster of Egypt’s first elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsy.
In July, the Egyptian military and police reportedly killed 61 protesters outside the Republican Guard headquarters, and 95 demonstrators at Cairo’s Manassa Memorial.
Egyptian forces have also been accused of killing 87 protesters in another Cairo sit-in at al-Nahda Square, on the day of the Rab’a dispersal, and followed with the killings of another 120 people who continued demonstrations in Ramsis Square in downtown Cairo, on 16 August.
The evidence gathered by HRW, along with the widespread and systematic nature of these killings, suggest that the killings were part of a policy to use lethal force against largely unarmed protesters, making them probable crimes against humanity.
HRW Middle East Division deputy director Joe Stork said: "The lack of justice for the victims of the Rab’a massacre and other mass killings is an open wound in Egyptian history.
"Addressing this crime is necessary before Egypt can begin to move forward."
After establishing the 30 June Fact-Finding Committee in December 2013, to investigate the killings and the events that precipitated and followed the protests, the Egyptian Government released an executive summary of the committee’s findings in November 2014, but failed to recommend charges against any government official or member of the security forces.
The suffocation deaths of 37 protesters on 18 August 2013 are said to be the only prosecution to have emerged from the mass killings of July and August 2013.
The government is yet to release the full report and has not signalled any intention to do so.
Image: An Egyptian Central Security Forces CSF officer takes aim at protesters to disperse the Rab’a sit-in Egypt. Photo: courtesy of © 2013 AFP / Getty Images.