For Immediate Release: February 2, 2012
New York City – Human Rights First is concerned by reports that Egyptian authorities and security forces failed to uphold routine security procedures as fans gathered for a soccer game in Port Said, thereby contributing to the terrible loss of at least 73 lives. Fans were apparently permitted to enter the stadium carrying knives, clubs and other weapons and gates and barriers designed to separate opposing fans were reportedly open.
“The Egyptian government must carry out a full, public inquiry into these tragic events in Port Said,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks, who recently issued Egypt’s Transition toDemocracy One Year On: Recommendations for U.S. Policy. “Those responsible for any negligence or wrong doing found to have contributed to this tragedy must be held accountable.”
Activists and some newly elected members of parliament are alleging that the violence may have been orchestrated for political purposes. Some claim that the ruling military council and its supporters exploit such incidents to demonstrate the need for continuing repression and the extension of Egypt’s long-running state of emergency.
Other sources have alleged that the supporters of the visiting Cairo club, Al-Ahly, may have been the victims of a premeditated revenge attack because of their support for the uprising that overthrew President Mubarak a year ago. In the early days of last January’s uprising, fanatical soccer supporters, known as “ultras,” played a key role in the violent confrontations between protesters and the security forces and supporters of the old regime. Their long experience of violent confrontations with the police was valuable to the protesters when they came under violent attack in such incidents as the “battle of the camels” that took place in Tahrir Square a year ago today.
“These allegations must be investigated and the truth must come to light through a thorough, transparent process so that similar violent confrontations do not recur,” added Hicks.
To speak with Hicks, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-370-3323.