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Human Rights Watch Urges U.N. Probe into Egypt’s Killing of Protesters

Egyptian security forces intentionally killed hundreds of protesters following the military’s ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, Human Rights Watch, or HRW, said on Tuesday, urging a United Nations’ probe into what it described as “crimes against humanity”.

In a 188-page report  based on a year-long investigation, the New York-based advocacy group said systematic and widespread killing of at least 1,150 Morsi supporters by security forces at six demonstrations between July 5 and August 17 was ordered by senior officials, including Egypt’s current president Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

The systematic and widespread killing of at least 1,150 demonstrators by Egyptian security forces in July and August 2013 probably amounts to crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch says.

The Egyptian military’s ouster of Mr. Morsi’s Islamist government last summer brought with it some of the worst violence seen in the country’s modern history.

HRW said the August 14 dispersal of the sit in near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque alone killed a minimum of 817 people.

“In Rabaa Square, Egyptian security forces carried out one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history,” Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in the report. “This wasn’t merely a case of excessive force or poor training. It was a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government. Many of the same officials are still in power in Egypt, and have a lot to answer for.”

No security or government officials have been prosecuted in the killings, and Egyptian military and police leaders have often said the dispersal was carried out as humanely as possible, blaming armed groups for instigating the violence by firing on security forces.

HRW sad a few protesters opened fire, while others threw rocks and petrol bombs at security forces, but these actions didn’t justify the mass killing that took place.

“Given the widespread and systematic nature of these killings, and the evidence suggesting that they were part of a policy to use lethal force against largely unarmed protesters on political grounds, these killings most likely amount to crimes against humanity,” it said.

The group called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate the mass killings of protesters and asked governments to suspend military and law enforcement aid to Egypt until it adopts measures to end its serious rights violations.

The report, which describes Mr. Sisi as a “principal architect” of the violence and is based on interviews with more than 200 witnesses, comes after HRW said Mr. Roth and the director of the Middle East division, Sarah Leah Whitson were denied entry to Egypt on Sunday in an attempt to silence criticism of the country.

The Egyptian government described Tuesday’s report as “negative and biased” as it ignored what it deemed as terrorist operations undertaken by the Muslim Brotherhood.

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(via WSJ Blogs)