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August 14, 2013

In Cairo, An Update from Brian Dooley

As Egyptian security forces crack down on Morsi supporters, Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley is in Cairo meeting with human rights activists there. With Dooley's help, we're posting updates on the situation in Cairo on Twitter @humanrights1st and we've provided recommendations to the United States government on how to better promote human rights in Egypt. 

Here’s the latest from Dooley:

It’s nearly 7:00 PM here. Egyptian security forces have cleared the smaller sit-in at Nahda but there is still fighting at the larger encampment at the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque. Casualty estimates vary wildly. Morsi supporters are claiming 1000 dead and 10,000 wounded, including many women and children.  International media outlets report more than 100 fatalities, mostly (not all) men.

Getting around much of the city is now dangerous. Downtown Cairo is very quiet with few people on the streets, but many neighborhoods are unsafe and there has been shooting between security forces and gunmen. Trains and main arteries into Cairo have been stopped to prevent protestors from the rest of the country from entering the city.

The military is solidifying its coup by installing governors across the country and has declared a month-long State of Emergency, which is all too reminiscent of Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian rule. Curfew begins in an hour and will last until 6 AM.

Churches and police stations are being attacked in various locations across the country by Islamist militants in revenge, and there has been a fresh wave of attacks on Copts.

Here’s what the Egyptian human rights activists I’ve been talking with tell me:

  • Along with the security forces, the Muslim Brotherhood has a responsibility to do what it can to quell the violence. Amnesty International’s report of torture within the camps and reports of protestors firing at security forces show that the sit-ins weren't entirely peaceful. Still, the security forces’ assaults on them are collective punishment.
  • Today, the U.S. State Department could help provide clarity about what’s actually happening on the ground by releasing information on casualties and the scope of the violence gathered by the Embassy in Cairo.

U.S. government aid to the military should be suspended after today’s violence. The resumption of military aid should be conditioned on the implementation of a credible program of national reconciliation in Egypt, and the empowerment of an inclusive, civilian led government with control over the military and security forces.

Human Rights First has been working to make sure that human rights promotion is at the center of American policy toward Egypt.  Read our Blueprint on how the United States Government can promote human rights in Egypt.  Follow us on Twitter @humanrights1st  for the latest news from Cairo.