Egypt’s military-installed authorities are quashing dissent and trampling on human rights, three years after the revolt which toppled Hosni Mubarak, Amnesty International charged Thursday.
“Egypt has witnessed a series of damaging blows to human rights and state violence on an unprecedented scale over the last seven months,” Amnesty’s Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said in a report, as Egypt prepares to mark on Saturday the anniversary of Mubarak’s overthrow.
“Three years on, the demands of the '25 January Revolution’ for dignity and human rights seem further away than ever.”
She said that unless the authorities changed course, “Egypt is likely to find its jails packed with unlawful detained prisoners and its morgues and hospitals with yet more victims of arbitrary and abusive force by its police”.
Since early 2011, political upheaval in Egypt has unseated two presidents, Mubarak and his successor Mohammed Mursi, and unleashed unrest that has deeply polarised the Arab world’s most populated country.
Sahraoui pointed out the authorities have also jailed the architects of the anti-Mubarak revolt, adding that “repression and impunity” had become the order of the day.
In November, the authorities passed a new protest law that bans all but police-sanctioned rallies, after which several leaders of the anti-Mubarak revolt were jailed for organising what officials say were unlicenced demonstrations.
Rights groups see the jailing of anti-Mubarak activists Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma, Mohamed Adel and the detention of Alaa Abdel Fattah as a broadening of the government’s crackdown on dissent, which had after Mursi’s ouster targeted only his Islamist supporters.
The authorities defended the removal of Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president, on the back of mass street protests against his one-year turbulent rule.
“The authorities must loosen their stranglehold on civil society and allow peaceful protests and other avenues of lawful dissent,” said Sahraoui, Amnesty’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“Their current policies are a betrayal of all the aspirations of bread, freedom and social justice” of the 2011 revolution.
She charged the security forces had also not been held to account for using "excessive” force in dealing with protests staged by Mursi’s supporters who continue to demand his reinstatement.
Amnesty International said since the Islamist president’s July 3 ouster by the army, 1,400 people have been killed in political violence, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces”.
By allowing the security forces to “operate with impunity, the authorities have emboldened them,” Sahraoui said. “The cycle of abuse will only be broken when the rule of law applies to all, regardless of their rank, and political affiliations.”
This has been coupled with attacks on journalists and media freedom as well as raids on non-governmental organisations, she said.
“This is a deliberate attempt to make it more difficult for them to operate in Egypt and continue their work documenting and reporting on state abuses,” Sahraoui said, adding that the judiciary too was being used as a “tool of repression”.