Human Rights Watch accused Egypt's military on Saturday of beating and torturing protesters arrested at a demonstration near the Defense Ministry on May 4, 2012.
Following interviews with victims and lawyers, the rights group announced that the military also failed to protect the protesters from attacks by armed groups in the demonstration that started in Cairo’s Abbasiyya neighborhood.
“The brutal beating of both men and women protesters shows that military officers have no sense of limits on what they can do,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The official law enforcement authorities may arrest people where there is evidence of wrongdoing, but it never has the right to beat and torture them.”
A protest against the Supreme Presidential Election Commission’s exclusion of Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail in the presidential elections developed into violent clashes with military forces.
Citing witnesses and participants, the Human Rights Watch reported on May 2 that “several dozen armed men without uniforms began shooting rifles and pellet guns at protesters, killing nine protesters and bystanders.”
Adel Khattab told the rights group that he was arrested along with his friend when they were looking for a third friend and they were beating
“Military soldiers beat us all the way up the street, from the bridge to the hospital. They beat us with their sticks, kicked us, and punched us. At one point there were around 10 or 15 of them beating me. They put us into vans; there were around 25 or 28 of us in one van and there were women with us. I saw soldiers hit them.
“My head was bleeding and my clothes were ripped by the time they brought me after that to the military prosecutor. Then they moved us to Tora prison. When we arrived there we were given a “reception party” where three plainclothes prison officials beat us and whipped us with hoses,” Khattab said.
The Egyptian Health Ministry said nine people were killed in the demonstration. Dr. Ashraf Refai told the Egyptian daily al-Shorouk that body autopsies conducted at Zeinhom morgue concluded that six deaths were caused by live ammunition, including three of people with head wounds, and that one death was caused by pellets in the chest.