Amnesty decries Egypt "mass arrests", Foreign Ministry condemns

Tuesday 30-06-2015 10:51 AM
Amnesty decries Egypt

CAIRO, Jun 30 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's Foreign Ministry condemned on Tuesday an Amnesty International briefing on Egypt's targeting and "mass arrests" of youth, describing it as "false ... claims" and "lies".

The ministry said in a statement that Amnesty's briefing is a "clear challenge" to the Egyptians' "will" and a "denial" of judicial procedures reserved for all.

The ministry said Amnesty "lacks credibility" and "blatantly violates the people's right to choose their leadership and to reject acts of terrorism and violence."

Amnesty's briefing, titled "Generation Jail: Egypt's youth go from protest to prison", argues that "mass arrests" have replaced "mass protests" in Egypt, as the country marks the second anniversary of the June 30 protests against former president Mohamed Mursi.

Mursi was ousted by the military in July 2013, in response to the June 30 protests.

Egypt "has regressed into a state of all-out repression," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

"By relentlessly targeting Egypt's youth activists, the authorities are crushing an entire generation's hopes for a brighter future,” said Sahraoui in the briefing. 

The briefing focused on 14 young people "among thousands who have been arbitrarily arrested, detained and jailed in Egypt over the past two years in connection with protests." Amnesty accused Egypt of fully becoming a "police state."

The organisation renewed its condemnation of Egypt's protest law, passed in 2013 to regulate peaceful assembly. Many have been sent to prison for violating the law since its issuance.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry accused Amnesty of "deliberately ignoring" presidential pardons to 165 "youths" issued on June 17. Most of those pardoned were serving time in prison for violating the protest law.

Amnesty also referred to a recent wave of forced disappearance which it said has gripped at least 160 people, citing the domestic Freedom for the Brave movement.

Resorting to "unknown and undocumented sources" to reach "absolute" conclusions about Egypt's domestic affairs reflects Amnesty's "politicised" mechanism, the ministry said. It said the organisation "deliberately ignores" official figures.

The ministry also said releasing similar briefings "reflects [Amnesty's] double standards, bias and lack of objectivity." It accused Amnesty and other organisations of attempting to "taint Egypt's image to achieve its malicious goals."

"Releasing such reports ... is in the interest of terrorist organisations proliferating not only in Egypt but throughout the world," the ministry's statement read. It accused Amnesty of "turning a blind eye to acts of violence and terrorism" in Egypt, saying this raises questions regarding the relation between "terrorist groups and such organisations."

Amnesty did denounce the assassination of Egypt's top prosecutor Hisham Barakat in an attack on his motorcade on Monday, describing the incident as "a despicable, cowardly and cold-blooded act of murder"

"The organisation has urged the authorities not to respond to the killing with further repression targeting peaceful protesters and activists, expressing concern over the numbers now held as part of a sweeping crackdown on dissent," Amnesty's briefing read.

Egypt is generally critical of reports issued on its human rights record.

The state opened fire at international organisations such as Human Rights Watch, which it accused of "leading a systematic campaign against Egypt," after the organisation released a report on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's first year in office, describing it as a "year of abuse".

It also rejected on Friday a United States report critical of the state's human rights practices in 2014, saying it was mired with "fallacies and exaggerations".

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