13 November 2011
The NCHR report on Maspero stopped short of defining…Who’s responsible?
While some rights activists and Copts welcomed the fact-finding report by the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) on the Maspero massacre, others criticised it, describing it as “limited”. They see that, although the report highlighted the fact that 12 Copts had met their death as a result of being crushed by military armoured vehicles, it stopped short of citing other facts that also condemn the army. It failed to address the question of who was responsible for the army vehicles that ran over protestors, or who fired the bullets that shot them to death.
The report strongly denounced the instigation against the Copts by State TV, and demanded that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf should order the questioning of the Media Minister Usama Heikal on that head.
Who’s responsible for the shooting?
“Can anyone explicitly condemn the Military Council?” Father Matthias Nasr of the church at Ezbet al-Nakhl, the spiritual father of the Maspero Youth Union (MYU) wondered out loud. Fr Matthias said the NCHR report came as no surprise since it is not possible to criticise the Military Council. With the publication of this report, he insisted, the NCHR lost its legitimacy for Egyptians, who have already seen the videos of military and security forces running down the protestors and shooting at them.
Yet another cleric with a pivotal role in the MYU, Fr Filopateer Gamil, saw the NCHR report as objective in that it stated that the Military Council was responsible for the physical crushing of the protestors, and for its demand to question the Media Minister.
“The report is misleading and disregards a large part of the truth,” commented Rami Kamel, coordinator of the MYU. NCHR investigators, he claimed, relied on eyewitnesses and ignored the testimony of the injured and members of the MYU who were at the centre of the events. “How did the report writers know that the bullets used by the army to shoot at the protestors were fake?” he asked.
The MYU, Mr Kamel said, plans to translate the report and attach videos of scenes of what really happened, as well as eyewitness testimonies, and send them to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) to show the whole world how misleading the report is and prove that the NCHR is on the side of the government rather than the people.
Compensating and treating the victims
Naguib Gabrail, head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organisation (EUHRO), criticised the report for being written by a quasi-governmental committee; the NCHR is a State-affiliated body. “In steering clear off the military council’s responsibility for shooting the protestors,” Mr Gabrail said, “the report presents advance proof of innocence of the military, before having any evidence to that.”
“The report includes several positive facts,” according to Amir Ramzi, a judge and member of the Cabinet’s National Justice Committee. “It confirms that the march was a peaceful one; that there was an intentional attempt to run over the protestors; and that there was shooting from different places. Inasmuch as it neglected to say who was responsible for the shooting, it kept the responsibility away from the military.”
On 2 November Mr Ramzi presented a detailed report to the military prosecution and attached to it photographs and video footage proving the guilt of the military police.
There was unanimous agreement that the report did well to demand that the families of the dead should be compensated by the State, and that the injured should be treated at the expense of the State, as has been the case with those who were injured in several incidents related to the 25 January revolution.