Egypt’s Human Rights Abuses: Made in USA?

gyptian security forces have used tear gas to disperse protesters (Photo Credit: Muhammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

Egyptian security forces have used tear gas to disperse protesters (Photo Credit: Muhammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).

It’s time to ensure that Egyptian human rights violations don’t come labeled “Made in the USA.”

On Oct. 9, the U.S. government announced that the U.S. was suspending millions of dollars in military aid to the Egypt. That was good news, but it’s not enough.

The White House decision fell short of the kind of systematic review necessary to bring public transparency to U.S. arms sales to Egypt and stronger protections against U.S. weapons being used in human rights violations.

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5 Steps That Offer the Best Hope For Egypt’s Future

A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi stands among the bodies of dead pro-Morsi protesters on the floor of the Rabaa al-Adaweya Medical Centre in Cairo, Egypt (Photo Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images).

A supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi stands among the bodies of dead pro-Morsi protesters on the floor of the Rabaa al-Adaweya Medical Centre in Cairo, Egypt (Photo Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images).

Egyptian security forces can’t break old habits, and now the spirit of the 2011 Uprisings is in disarray.

For the third day in a row, security forces have attacked supporters for deposed President Mohamad Morsi, some of whom are armed and have fired back. Health officials put the death toll on Wednesday at 525, but that number has surely gone higher in the two days since.

The military has imposed a State of Emergency, inspiring memories of the abuses under the Mubarak regime facilitated by the special laws of a 30-year State of Emergency.

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BREAKING: Pro-Morsi Demonstration Dispersed in Cairo, Amnesty Researchers On the Ground

An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital today as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month (Photo Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images).

An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Cairo today as security forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations  (Photo Credit: Ed Giles/Getty Images).

Promises by the authorities to use lethal methods only as a last resort to disperse protesters appear to have been broken. All too often in the past, Egyptian security forces have used excessive force against demonstrators with catastrophic consequences.

Amnesty International working on the ground to verify any abuses that may have been carried out after a pro-Morsi sit-in was dispersed in Cairo today. We also stress Egyptian security forces must take urgent steps to avoid further bloodshed.

Access to the main hospital in the area near the sit-in at Rabaa al-Adawiya is also reported to be restricted.

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During This Critical Time, Egypt Cannot Repeat Recent Mistakes

By Nicholas Piachaud, Egypt campaigner, Amnesty International

In Egypt, the army seems to be leading a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Soldiers seem to have killed dozens of protesters supporting the post-president Mohammad Morsi. This is a human rights crisis, which stretches all across Egypt. And much of this current political violence could have been better contained if the security forces had put plans in place to control it.

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Sexual Assaults On Female Protesters Continue Amid Political Turmoil

Faced with a spike in sexual violence against female protesters, Egyptian women are overcoming stigma and recounting painful testimonies to force silent authorities and a reticent society to confront "sexual terrorism" (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images).

Faced with a spike in sexual violence against female protesters, Egyptian women are overcoming stigma and recounting painful testimonies to force silent authorities and a reticent society to confront “sexual terrorism” (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images).

By Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Egypt researcher, in Cairo 

While the world is focusing on the political fall-out of millions of people taking to the streets in Egypt, with widespread calls for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi, and the army taking over, other stomach-turning developments have passed virtually unnoticed: Women and girls protesting in the vicinity of Tahrir Square are, time and time again, being sexually attacked by mobs, with authorities remaining idle.

This is not a new phenomenon.

Testimonies from women caught up in the demonstrations, survivors from previous protests and those trying to help, point to a horrific chain of events: tens if not hundreds of men surround their victims, tearing-off their clothes and veils, unzipping trousers, groping breasts and backsides. Sticks, blades and other weapons are frequently used in such attacks.

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In Egypt, Making Fun of Authorities is No Laughing Matter

Egyptian satirist and television host Bassem Youssef surrounded by his supporters upon his arrival at the public prosecutor's office in the high court in Cairo.  Egypt's public prosecutor ordered the arrest of popular satirist Youssef over alleged insults to Islam and to President Mohamed Morsi, in the latest clampdown on critical media (Photo Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images).

Egyptian satirist and television host Bassem Youssef surrounded by his supporters upon his arrival at the public prosecutor’s office in Cairo. Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered the arrest of Youssef over alleged insults to Islam and to President Mohamed Morsi, in the latest clampdown on critical media (Photo Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images).

“I am an American satirist, and Bassem Youssef is my hero,” Jon Stewart has said of his so-named Egyptian counterpart.

Bassem Youssef, whose show frequently pokes fun at Egyptian authorities and the use of religion for political purposes, found himself in the global spotlight after criminal charges were filed against him for his political satire. Jon Stewart highlighted the case on The Daily Show, TIME Magazine named Youssef one of the 100 Most Influential People of the year, and the Egyptian assault on free speech received international attention.

But Youssef himself cast attention on the many others caught up in the crackdown.

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The Egyptian Women Standing Up for Human Rights

Faced with a spike in sexual violence against female protesters, Egyptian women are overcoming stigma and recounting painful testimonies to force silent authorities and a reticent society to confront 'sexual terrorism' (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images).

Faced with a spike in sexual violence against female protesters, Egyptian women are overcoming stigma and recounting painful testimonies to force silent authorities and a reticent society to confront ‘sexual terrorism’ (Photo Credit: Mahmud Khaled/AFP/Getty Images).

The hopes and aspirations of Egypt’s 2011 uprising may rest in the ability of women to fight back against official discrimination and gender-based violence in the public arena.

Today, women play a leading role in the struggle for human rights in Egypt, but they’re paying a price for it through laws that marginalize them, increasing number of sexual assaults of women protesters and official pronouncements from authorities that women are to blame for the attacks on them.

A new Amnesty International campaign intends to reverse the loss of rights and to reclaim the promises of the Tahrir uprising by demanding that Egyptian authorities, both civilian and military, condemn sexual violence, fulfill their obligations to ensure women have the full spectrum of human rights and to press for accountability for past abuses.

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