The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) published a report on Monday saying “repression and the absence of security are part of the security system used as a tool to achieve the interests of those in power”. The report focuses mainly on clashes in Cairo.
The report said that clashes near Qasr Al-Nile in Downtown Cairo resulted in the deaths of three to eight people, the discrepancy being based on conflicting reports from field hospital doctors and Health Ministry statements.
Security forces detained several journalists and destroyed their equipment, while Al-Watan newspaper’s headquarters in Dokki was attacked by unknown assailants in the absence security forces. The assailants, according to ANHRI, later attacked the CBC channel headquarters. They managed to enter the premises, and destroyed equipment and furniture. The report said security forces were also not present at the CBC.
ANHRI said despite the fact that police had been notified of the attack on Al-Watan, whose office is located in a densely populated commercial district, police did not appear on the scene until after the perpetrators had left.
The report also said that security forces continued to clash with protesters on Qasr El-Nile, using large amounts of teargas which ANHRI says directly led to the death of at least two people, one of which eyewitnesses say was a child. Live ammunition was also found by field doctors, and is believed to be the cause of death for at least one other child.
The Ministry of Health meanwhile denied any children were killed, and an address delivered on Sunday by the interior minister claimed no live ammunition has been used by the police since the January 2011 Revolution.
“The excessive use of force by the security apparatus against protesters and their absence in protecting media institutions, in addition to the targeting of journalists, is a pattern of the security’s policy centred on protecting the interests of the system and oppression of various forms of opposition to that system,” ANHRI said.
ANHRI added in their statement that the interior minister’s justification for the use of excessive force under the guise of protecting state institutions is contradicted by the lack of security present in places where institutions are actually attacked.
ANHRI demanded security forces cease using excessive force against demonstrators, adding “the prosecutor general should order an immediate investigation into the murder, assault and illegal detention as well as any other practice that violates the law committed by the security forces.”
The human rights group also reiterated its demand that security forces stop infringing on journalists and their ability to inform the public, demanding prosecutors launch investigations into the attack on Al-Watan and CBC, as well as other similar attacks on journalists in the field.
ANHRI warned that continuing the practice of selective protection to defend state interests “threatens to escalate violence to uncontrollable levels, putting the whole community in serious risk”.