Egypt: Military urged to respect rights of protesters
* Authorities must restore internet
* Amnesty experts currently in Egypt available for further comment
Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian military to respect the rights of protesters as Cairo demonstrators held their biggest protest yet amid ongoing nationwide unrest.
The organisation is also calling for the restoration of internet services after Noor, the one remaining provider in Egypt, was cut off yesterday. Recently, mobile phone services were restored after also being cut.
Media reports estimate that hundreds of thousands of people gathered at the mass protest in Tahrir Square in Cairo today calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down and corruption, poverty and police abuses to end. Egypt’s military had announced yesterday that it would not fire on peaceful protesters and said the aims of the demonstrators were legitimate.
Amnesty International Senior Director Claudio Cordone said:
“Protecting the right to demonstrate peacefully is a duty.
“We welcome the army’s commitment not to fire on protesters, after we have repeatedly raised concerns about the excessive use of force by security forces during the demonstrations.
“Protesters have shown that they can organise massive demonstrations with or without the internet - but what is crucial now is the free flow information so that evidence on the abuses and killings that have occurred in the past week can be brought to light, and those responsible brought to account.”
Protesters have accused plainclothes police agents and criminals in the pay of the police of carrying out looting in the past week in order to discredit the demonstrations.
Troops carried out searches at entry and exit points to the square and the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities was placed under heavy guard, Amnesty International staff present at the today’s protest reported.
Note to editors
To speak to Amnesty staff in Egypt, please contact the Amnesty International UK media office