The claims of many protesters in Cairo that the promises made after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak have not been honoured have been backed by a newly-published report by Amnesty International.
In the report, the human rights group alleges that the governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has “arbitrarily restricted” the rights it said it would safeguard. In February, in the midst of the post-revolution euphoria, the military released the following statement:
“The SCAF has clearly announced its position from the beginning of the revolution and that it has sided with you and has not and will not deal with the sons of this great society with any form of violence.”
Amnesty sets out in its report how it believes the council has not kept to its pledge.
On the freedom of expression, in which the SCAF said it “would not interfere”, Amnesty claims that “Scores of journalists, bloggers and activists have been questioned by military prosecutors after criticizing the SCAF…Reporting on the SCAF has been stifled by official pressure and harassment, including raids on television studios, creating an environment where some editors and media owners are reluctant to cross Egypt’s military authorities…Newspapers containing material deemed to be politically-sensitive have been confiscated or prevented from printing.”
The NGO goes on to allege that “Security forces have used excessive and lethal force to disperse peaceful demonstrations.” and that a new law “criminalizes going on strike and other forms of peaceful protest.” Torture, it says “continues to be widespread” and “committed with virtual impunity.”
Other allegations include strip searches and ‘virginity checks’ of women by male officers in military prisons and the military trials of almost 12,000 civilians despite promises that such trials would be limited.
And the application of the death penalty has been expanded to include new offences such as “hooliganism” and “thuggery”. The report claims at least 13 people have been sentenced to death since the fall of President Mubarak.
The “Broken Promises” report concludes by saying that the SCAF have used the same arguments as Mubarak for violating human rights, namely the need to maintain security. Egypt’s current rulers have, it says, “done little to restore the rule of law.”
Meanwhile in Cairo in November, the same people are back on the same streets making the same complaints as in January.