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The Human Rights Watch report .. A disgraceful sham

Youssef Sidhom

23 Aug 2014 8:29 am

Problems on hold

Any Egyptian who reads the recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report on the disbanding of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo on 14 August 2013 at the hands of the Egyptian security forces, is bound to bristle with rage or perhaps have a fit of bitter laughter. The report flagrantly falsifies the truth and instigates world opinion against the Egyptian people and ruling authority. We had grown accustomed to the international media airing and printing absurdities, falsifications, and threats against the 30 June 2013 Egyptian Revolution which overthrew the MB, as though Egyptians had no right to rid themselves of an abominable regime that had hijacked their homeland. Time has proved to the whole world, however, that the Egyptian revolution was the outcome of the will of the sweeping majority of the people, and that the MB retaliated by carrying out terrorist operations against Egypt’s civilians, police, and military, to say nothing of their vicious attacks against Copts.
During the year between June 2013 and 2014, Egyptians established a new Constitution and, in free transparent elections, voted in Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as President by a landslide. It became obvious that the country was on the right track to democracy and rebuilding. We assumed the foreign conspiracy to force Islamist rule upon Egypt had been defeated, and that the countries behind it had surrendered to the will of Egyptians.
Obviously, however, the foreign forces bent on imposing their will on Egypt are not accepting defeat, but are reproducing the lies they earlier propagated in order to create an image that would internationally condemn Egypt and threaten her with dire consequences. But the cheap, all-too-obvious ploy can never pull Egypt back or put her under pressure to reinstate the MB. By now, it is clear beyond doubt that the ‘foreign forces’ are the United States, and the ‘ploy’ is the recent HRW report. I will here examine excerpts of that report, in order to highlight the magnitude of the falsification of the events we lived through on the ground in Egypt. Egyptians are clearly not the target readers of this report since they would obviously recognise for a fact that it is nothing but a pack of lies. Instead, the report targets readers who do not live in Egypt and have no way of knowing the truth about what really took place on the ground, serving thus the purpose of propagating a false image that would condemn Egyptians for crimes they never committed.
•    The title of the report, “All According to Plan: The Rabaa Massacre and Mass Killings of Protestors in Egypt” exposes its intention even before it goes on to cite its fact finding methodology. It declares that in Rabaa Square, Egyptian security forces carried out one of the world’s largest killing of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.
•    As eyewitness to the Rabaa Square sit-in and breakup, I testify that from the outset the security forces repeatedly sent out calls and requests to the protestors, pleading with them to leave the square, and promising them safe exit.  These calls especially escalated three days before the break-up when the security forces opened a safe passage for anyone who desired to leave. On the day of the breakup, the police marched on the protest camp slowly and cautiously, again sending out repeated calls for the protestors to leave safely. The security forces were targeted by snipers who had stationed themselves on the balconies and roofs of the buildings surrounding Rabaa Square; the first victim, a police officer, fell to sniper fire. The protestors, realising the end was near, resorted to rampaging and burning all the facilities they had occupied during their sit-in, to the point of setting ablaze Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque and hospital. All this was aired live. But the HRW report declares that the security forces issued little to no effective warning before it indiscriminately opened fire on the masses, leaving no safe exit for nearly 12 hours. It says that security forces fired on makeshift medical facilities and placed snipers in positions that would enable them to target anyone who attempted to access or exit the Rabaa Hospital. Near the end of the day the central podium, the makeshift field hospital and the first floor of the Rabaa Hospital were set ablaze possibly at the hands of security forces, the report claims.  The ‘possibility’ was used to cloak the lie that the security forces had committed the violations which, as we all saw, had been committed by the MB protestors themselves.
•    Since the HRW report targets those who know nothing about the truth on the ground, it shamelessly claims that the Egyptian authorities attempted to justify the disbanding of the Rabaa sit-in by “maintaining that the sit-ins disrupted residents’ lives, increased traffic congestion, provided a forum for sectarian incitement and terrorism, and a locale for demonstrators to detain and abuse opponents, including some to death.” So the events that plagued the lives of the residents all through the sit-in—the constant terror they were made to live through, the raiding of their homes, the speeches of terror and hate they had to listen to all day and night from the sit-in podium—are nothing but allegations by the Egyptian authorities! And I’m not even going into the crimes the protestors committed against suspect non-MB media persons who covered the sit-in, or against any of the protestors who decided they had had enough and wished to go home. Those who were able to escape had horror stories to tell of the brutal torture they were subjected to at the hands of the protestors.
•    The epitome of the farce, however, were the tears shed by HRW executive director Kenneth Roth over the dashed hopes of the Egyptians in their revolution. He said it was heart wrenching to watch the hopes of many Egyptians in the wake of the 2011 uprising shattered amid the bloodbath of mass killings during the sit-in breakup. I don’t know what consolation we can offer poor Mr Roth for his sorrow.
•    Mr Roth proceeds with his delusion that ever since the events of July/August 2013, the Egyptian government has persisted in crushing the opposition, sweeping its own violations under the rug, and rewriting history. But the efforts of the government in this regard cannot wipe out what happened in Rabaa last year. Looking at Egypt’s resounding failure in investigating these crimes, he says, it is time the international community intervened.
Excuse me, dear reader, I did not intend to serve propaganda to this dubious report; it does not even warrant a stop at it. Because the truth is that we, Egyptians, do not care anymore. I discussed it merely to warn those among us who have not woken up yet to the truth. To those I say wake up and unite, numerous challenges lie ahead. The forces of darkness are not happy with the solidarity of Egyptians, they are lurking in the wings waiting for an opportunity to pounce and regain the prize they lost: Egypt.

Watani International
24 August 2014


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