Egypt: Rabaa Massacre - Lest We Forget, They Shall Not Go Away With Impunity
14 August 2014 marks the first anniversary of the killing of al-Rabaa Adawiya and el-Nahda squares in Cairo, which claimed the lives of over a thousand Egyptians who came to demonstrate peacefully against the military coup on 3 July 2013.
Despite the unanimous condemnation of human rights NGOs and much of the international community, shocked by the scale of the massacre, no investigation has been conducted by the Egyptian authorities to establish the responsibilities for this tragedy.
In a statement sent in the aftermath of the massacres, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay denounced the "excessive, even extreme, use of force against demonstrators", requested the opening of "an independent, impartial, effective and credible investigation of the conduct of the security forces" and asked that "anyone found guilty of wrongdoing be held to account."
Alkarama, which had documented nearly 1,000 cases of summary executions and communicated the list to the UN Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions, had also called on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to urge members of the UN Security Council to refer these mass crimes to the International Criminal Court in accordance with the relevant provisions of the 2011 Rome Statute.
"There is no doubt for Alkarama that this bloody, disproportionate and planned Egyptian military and police action against peaceful demonstrators shows all legal characteristics of a crime against humanity under the international law," said Rachid Mesli, Legal Director at Alkarama.
However serious these massacres, recently compared to China's Tiananmen killings in 1989, and despite repeated calls by various UN agencies and human rights NGOs, no proper investigation has been conducted to date. But considering the authorities' direct involvement in the massacre, there is little hope of justice for the families and friends of the victims.
The victims' families and their lawyers recall that it was under the command of General al-Sisi himself that the security services intervened in Cairo's two large public squares; and that those who supervised the operation were not punished but promoted to higher positions.
Alkarama stresses that States have an obligation to bring the perpetrators of serious human rights violations to justice, in accordance with their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. Egypt has the duty to investigate the killings and bring justice to the families.
No country or leader should be given preferential treatment for political considerations and stand above the international treaties to which it has adhered voluntarily. All victims, whoever they are, have a right to justice and reparations for violations of their most fundamental rights. As such, Alkarama will continue to work with civil society organisations so that the perpetrators and those guilty of these crimes against humanity do not go unpunished.
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