Egypt marks four year anniversary of Rabaa massacre


Published: 2017-08-14 16:55

Last Updated: 2017-08-14 16:55

Rabaa massacre, August 14 2013. (Photo: Mosa'ab Elshamy)
Rabaa massacre, August 14 2013.  (Photo: Mosa'ab Elshamy)

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Rabaa massacre in Egypt, in which security forces violently dispersed two sit-ins at Rabaa al Adawiya and al-Nahda squares in Greater Cairo, leaving around 1000 people dead and thousands more injured.

On August 14, 2013, huge crowds gathered in Rabaa Square to protest the removal of the country’s first democratically elected President, Mohammed Morsi. Most of the protesters were members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who had been demonstrating outside the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo for 47 days.

At around 6am, security forces, headed by the incumbent president and former General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, fired indiscriminately into the crowd. Demonstrators were shot in the head and chest, and the tents in which they had gathered were set on fire. Two independent investigations by Human Rights Watch and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights concluded that Egyptian security forces launched an all-out assault on predominantly unarmed protesters.

Human rights groups have condemned as the worst attack on protesters in modern history, and Egypt's justice system has faced vast criticism over its failure to bring anyone to trial over the killings.

In a statement released today, human rights group Amnesty International has condemned the lack of accountability held over the violent events of August 2013, alongside the systematic crackdown on opposition by Egypt’s government following the massacre.

“President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s regime has been determined to wipe out all memory of the massacre of the summer of 2013. The dark legacy of this failure to bring anyone to justice is that Egypt’s security forces today feel that they will not be held accountable for committing human rights violations,” Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

“The Rabaa dispersal marks a defining turning point for human rights in Egypt. In the years since then, security forces have stepped up violations and varied their methods, carrying out enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions on a scale never seen before.”

Since the Rabaa massacre, thousands have been imprisoned and tortured, human rights organisations shut down, journalists targeted, news sites blocked. In many cases defendants were convicted in unfair trials, faced with charges including participating in unauthorised protests, belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, damaging state and private property, possessing firearms and attacking security forces.

“The level of disparity between the rampant impunity enjoyed by security forces who took part in the Rabaa dispersal on one hand, and the mass persecution of Muslim Brotherhood supporters who participated in protest as well as journalists reporting that day, is shocking,” said Najia Bounaim.