Egypt failing to uphold its responsibility to protect

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The Egyptian interim government has declared a state of emergency after protests and riots broke out in response to a violent crackdown on supporters of the ex-President Morsi, on 14 August. It is reported that 525 people have been killed, including 43 police officers and a number of foreign journalists, when the army moved to clear two protest camps in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Millions of Egyptians have participated in pro- and anti-Morsi protests since the coup in July, and while there have been clashes between civilians and security forces, yesterday’s crackdown was by far the most violent.

A number of state leaders, including the UK, have spoken out to express concern at the escalating violence and unrest in Egypt, condemning the use of force to clear the protests and urging the Egyptian authorities to act with the “greatest restraint”. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the violence against civilians in the “strongest terms”, urging “all Egyptians to concentrate their efforts on promoting genuinely inclusive reconciliation”.

There are also concerns regarding the inflaming of communal tensions in Egypt, particularly against religious minorities such as Shia and Christians, who are perceived to be supportive of the coup.

In allowing the large-scale killing of demonstrators, the Egyptian interim government is failing to uphold its responsibility to protect civilians and is showing an unwillingness to abide by international human rights law.

UNA-UK urges the Egyptian government to respect the right of peaceful protest, uphold its obligation to protect all populations within Egypt from violence and we reiterate the words of the Secretary-General: that “violence and incitement from any side are not the answers to the challenges Egypt faces.”

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