Top News: NCHR Says Pro-Morsi Supporters Initiated Violence in Raba’a Dispersal

The National Council for Human Rights, Egypt’s state-run rights watchdog, announced the results on Wednesday of its long-awaited report on last August’s bloody dispersal of a main protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.    


NCHR says pro-Morsi supporters initiated violence in Raba’a dispersal
The National Council for Human Rights, Egypt’s state-run rights watchdog, announced the results on Wednesday of its long-awaited report on last August’s bloody dispersal of a main protest camp in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. According to Nasser Amin, a council member who announced the council’s findings, protesters had initiated the aggression against security forces shortly after the latter besieged Cairo’s Raba’a al-Adaweya Square and announced through loudspeakers that protesters could leave through certain “secure corridors.” He said that security forces gave protesters only twenty-five minutes to leave the sit-in, which the NCHR determined was insufficient. Amin added that the report placed some responsibility on security forces, saying that they did not maintain proportional use of force during the clearing operation, and prevented injured protesters from receiving treatment. The panel accused pro-Morsi protesters of detaining and torturing residents in the Nasr City district, and said that the protesters carried arms and shot at security forces, as well as using civilians as human shields. Amin denied that military forces had taken part in the dispersal, maintaining that they had only secured the “surrounding area.” But, in a departure from past official accounts, the panel said that the majority of the protesters were peaceful. According to the NCHR report, 632 people were killed, among them 624 civilians and eight policemen. The panel’s recommendations included providing compensation for victims who were not involved in the violence as well as calling for a judicial inquiry into the dispersal. [Reuters, Aswat Masriya (Arabic), World Bulletin, 3/5/2014]

April 6 oppose Sisi run for presidency; NASL says Sisi is pushing country toward sabotage
Egypt’s April 6 protest group, which helped topple Hosni Mubarak in 2011, spoke out on Wednesday against any attempt by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to seek the presidency, saying this would be divisive and destabilizing. Meanwhile, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), which supports deposed President Mohamed Morsi, said on Wednesday that Sisi’s Tuesday speech was deceiving. “His nomination for presidency will be ominous for Egypt,” the statement added. “Sisi continues to deceive. He pushes the country toward sabotage and destruction for clear personal interests.” [Reuters, DNE, Egypt Independent, 3/5/2014]

Mansour sends elections law to cabinet for review
According to reports from independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, interim President Adly Mansour submitted the presidential elections law to the cabinet for its review on Tuesday, in preparation for its issuance. Meanwhile, Mada Masr reports that among the amendments made by the State Council tasked with reviewing the law, is a change that allows for a referendum. If only one candidate runs for president, five percent of eligible voters will have to vote for them in order to  in, said Mahmoud Fawzy, a judge at the state council Tuesday. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), Mada Masr, 3/5/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Two security service giants in running for presidency of new party Masr Belady | Mada Masr
  • Nour Party says will not form coalitions in upcoming parliamentary elections | EGYNews (Arabic)


Marriott Cell trial scheduled to begin Wednesday
The trial of twenty journalists working for Al-Jazeera, including four foreigners, is scheduled to resume for its second session on Wednesday. The sixteen Egyptians are charged with joining a terrorist organization – a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, officially designated a terrorist group in December – harming national unity and social peace. The foreigners – an Australian, two Britons and one Dutch – are accused of “airing false news” in order to “undermine the state’s status and disrupt public security.” The resumption of the trial comes shortly after Egypt’s trade and investment minister, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, admitted that he would have dealt with the journalists differently. “This is The Mistake – ‘the’ with a capital T,” said Abdel Nour of the case, in an interview the BBC. “This being said, even journalists have to abide by the law of the land. Your friend came to Egypt, worked as a journalist without a permit, without taking the legal steps that are required to act in Egypt.” [Ahram Online, DNE, Guardian, EGYNews (Arabic), 3/5/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Morsi’s son proven to have taken drugs: Forensic medicine report | Egypt Independent
  • Jail terms, hefty fines for Egypt anniversary protesters | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s prosecution releases twenty-four Morsi supporters | Ahram Online
  • Eleven Brotherhood supporters sentenced to two years prison for anniversary protests | EGYNews (Arabic)


United States allocates US$7 billion for Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen in 2015
US President Barack Obama allocated US$46.2 billion of the FY2015 state budget to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Of that amount, $7 billion will be allocated to enhance stability, security and economic partnership with Middle East countries. The State Department seeks assisting regional countries, which undergo interim periods like in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, in addition to assisting the Syrian people especially the displaced citizens as a result of the conflict there. It also seeks to support reform in the region. [Egypt Independent, 3/5/2014]

Orascom Construction cleared of tax evasion accusation
Investors at Orascom Construction Industries S.A.E. (OCI S.A.E) will save more than EGP 7 billion ($1 billion) in taxes.  Tuesday, the Dutch company, OCI NV, announced that the Egyptian Public Prosecutor has “fully exonerated Orascom Construction Industries, the company’s Egyptian subsidiary, of any wrongdoing and all charges of tax evasion.” According to the company’s statement, the decision was issued on February 18. The controversial dispute between the Egyptian government and the Sawiris family, who own OCI, began during a speech by ousted president Mohamed Morsi in October 2012, where he alleged that Orascom had evaded EGP 14 billion ($2 billion) in taxes. In April 2013, OCI reached a settlement with the government, agreeing to pay the Egyptian Tax Authority EGP 7.1 billion in ten instalments from 2013-2017. Orascom has paid a first installment of EGP 2.5 billion ($0.36 billion) but suspended the second installment of EGP 900 million ($128 million) due this past Dec. 31. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 3/4/2014]

Also of Interest:


Printing of newspaper with critical content halted
The third weekly issue of Al-Wady newspaper, scheduled to hit the stands on Monday night, did not go to print, editor-in-chief Khaled al-Balshy told the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm daily on Tuesday. He added that he did not know why. This is the second time the printing of this issue has been halted after being sent to Al-Akhbar foundation printers, Balshy told privately owned newspaper Youm7.The first time was due to administrative reasons, he said. The current issue included many heated topics, among them an investigation of the controversial AIDS cure announced by the military, a revisiting of the State Security building raids that occurred in 2011, and letters from detained activists Alaa Abd El Fattah and Ahmed Maher. [Mada Masr, 3/5/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egyptian Engineers Assembly to boycott Engineers’ Syndicate elections | DNE
  • Negotiations with Postal Authority workers reach a dead end | DNE
  • Second semester to start Saturday: Cairo University head | Ahram Online
  • Medical professions to start partial open strike Saturday | Mada Masr
  • Prime Minister Mehleb visits Mahalla factory to meet with workers | Aswat Masriya (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic)


Bomb hits Egypt’s reserve gas pipeline
A bomb hit Egypt’s reserve gas pipeline near Port Said on Wednesday morning, state news agency MENA reported. The improvised explosive device caused no casualties. Explosives experts have begun investigations at the site. Initial reports show the bombers placed the device near the reserve gas pipeline and not the active one, avoiding a massive explosion in the area. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), 3/5/2014]

Also of Interest:


Qatar ‘regrets’ Gulf envoys recall, will not reciprocate; Egypt ambassador will not return to Qatar
Qatar said on Wednesday it regretted the decision of three fellow Gulf monarchies to withdraw their envoys to Doha, but pledged not to pull its ambassadors from those countries. Doha said the decision by Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates was linked to “differences over issues outside the Gulf Cooperation Council”, in an apparent reference to differing policies mainly regarding Egypt. The three countries justified their recall moves by saying Qatar had failed not to meddle in the “internal affairs” of member states. Meanwhile, Egypt’s foreign ministry also said on Wednesday it will not return its ambassador to Qatar. Nasr Kamel, an aide to Egypt’s foreign ministry said the decision was in protest over Qatari intervention in the Egypt’s internal affairs and for not handing over Egyptians wanted by prosecutors on criminal charges, according to Al-Ahram‘s Arabic news website.” [AFP, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, Mada Masr, EGYNews (Arabic), 3/5/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Human rights in Egypt under international spotlight | DNE
  • Egypt irrigation minister denounces Ethiopia’s ‘obstinacy’ on dam | Ahram Online, Mada Masr
  • FM: Banning Hamas activities will not stop our efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation | Egypt Independent
  • FM: Egypt is not hostile to Ethiopia | Egypt Independent
  • Saudi authorities release 59 Egyptian fishermen | Egypt Independent
  • Hamas denies assassination of Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mahmoud Ezzat | EGYNews (Arabic)

Image: Photos: Mosa'ab El Shamy