Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) report on the Rabaa sit-in dispersal is “full of negativity and bias in how it handled the violent events that Egypt experienced over 2013”, Egypt’s State Information Services alleged Tuesday.
The statement claimed the HRW report “ignored the terrorist operations that the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organisation and its supporters committed,” accusing it of bias in favour of the Anti-Coup Alliance.
In the 188-page report, “All According to Plan: The Rabaa Massacre and Mass Killings of Protestors in Egypt,” HRW addressed the Egyptian security forces’ dispersal of six demonstrations in July and August, including the extended sit-in in Rabaa al-Adaweya, held by supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi following his ouster 3 July ouster.
On 14 August 2013, Egyptian security forces violently dispersed the 45-day sit-in, killing what HRW said amounted to likely more than 1,000 people. The security forces also went on a spree of mass arrests.
The HRW report was initially intended to be released from inside Egypt in a private briefing with diplomats and journalists on Tuesday, but instead the organisation was forced to release the report electronically in a video conference after its directors were denied entry into the country.
This incident marked the first time HRW staff was denied entry to Egypt, even during the 30-year rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The SIS statement questioned the timing of the HRW visit and report’s release, saying it coincided with “suspicious movements on the part of the terrorist organisation and its supporters.”
The statement said that Egypt was “not surprised,” by the report on the basis that the organisation’s “orientations are known.”
It stated that Egypt rejects the report and criticises its bias and called HRW “unprofessional” for “relying on anonymous unreliable accounts,” and “twisting the truth,” of the events that took place between July and August 2013. It claimed Egyptian security forces were “committed to legal and ethical international standards in dispersing the sit-ins.”
It also accused HRW of violating Egyptian state sovereignty, saying that HRW’s investigations and collection of evidence were “a flagrant violation of international law” on the basis that the organisation “does not have the legal privilege” of working in Egypt. It added that the organisation previously withdrew its request to produce a work licence in Egypt as a foreign NGO.
Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, responded to this accusation during the report’s electronic press release, saying that the use of lethal force against protesters is a violation of international law. This, he added, is the international law Egypt should be concerned with.