HRW slams Egypt cops after revolt anniversary bloodshed

2015-01-26 16:31
Supporters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi clash with anti-government protesters (unseen) following demonstrations in Cairo. (Mohamed El-Shahed, AFP)

Supporters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi clash with anti-government protesters (unseen) following demonstrations in Cairo. (Mohamed El-Shahed, AFP)

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Cairo - Human Rights Watch on Monday accused Egyptian police of using "excessive force" against protesters after 20 people were killed in clashes on the fourth anniversary of its 2011 uprising.

The clashes between protesters and security forces in Cairo and the coastal city of Alexandria on Sunday came after Islamists called for demonstrations against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government.

At least 19 protesters, mostly Islamist supporters of Mohammed Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president who was ousted by then army chief Sisi in July 2013, and a policeman were killed, a health ministry official said.

The Cairo violence accounted for all but one death, that of a demonstrator in Alexandria.

Independent use of force

Late Sunday, officials had put the death toll at 15, including the policeman who was shot dead during clashes in a northern Cairo district.

"Four years after Egypt's revolution, police are still killing protesters on a regular basis," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Right Watch.

The New York-based HRW called for "an independent investigation into the authorities' excessive use of force" to quell "apparently peaceful protests".

Tensions had surged ahead of the anniversary, and a female demonstrator was killed in clashes with police during a rare leftwing protest in Cairo on Saturday.

Shaima al-Sabbagh died of birdshot wounds when police fired to disperse a march, fellow protesters and HRW said.

More repressive

An 18-year-old female protester was also killed on Friday in clashes in Alexandria.

Egypt has been gripped by political turmoil since the 2011 uprising which toppled long-time strongman Hosni Mubarak and by violent unrest since his successor Morsi was ousted.

Sisi has since led a crackdown on Morsi's supporters that has left hundreds dead, thousands in jail and dozens sentenced to death.

After a landslide presidential election victory last May, Sisi has been regularly accused by activists and rights groups of installing a regime that is more repressive than Mubarak's.

His supporters deny the allegations, pointing to his popularity among a large section of Egypt's population weary of four years of turmoil and economic crisis.

Read more on:    hrw  |  hosni mubarak  |  mohammed morsi  |  abdel fattah al-sisi  |  egypt  |  north africa

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