UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Navi Pillay [official profile] on Monday condemned the brutal crackdown [press release] on protesters by military and security forces in Cairo. Since Friday the brutal suppression of demonstrations has led to 11 deaths and more than 500 injuries. This is the second time since November that Pillay has condemned the use of excessive violence in Egypt. In November she issued a statement denouncing the deaths of 30 protesters [JURIST report] at the hands of security and military forces. She expressed particularly strong concern over what seems to be a deliberate targeting of peaceful women protesters.
The graphic images of protesters, including women, being brutally clubbed and assaulted, long after the point when they are showing any resistance, are utterly shocking. People lying motionless on the ground are shown on film being smashed on the head and body with sticks. These are life-threatening and inhuman acts that cannot possibly be justified under the guise of restoration of security or crowd control.Pillay called for an independent and impartial investigation into the violence, citing that whoever has perpetrated these attacks must be brought to justice, no matter their rank or power. She also called for the release of all of the prisoners who have been jailed for exercising their rights. Pillay also had a message for protesters, urging them to continue to preserve the peaceful nature of their protests.
Pillay's November declaration came after Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report highlighting the human rights violations [JURIST report] committed by Egyptian authorities against protesters. That report expressed the concern that the rights violations under this new government maybe equal to those perpetrated under the Mubarak regime. In late November UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] and a group of independent human rights experts [JURIST report] called on Egyptian authorities to guarantee the protection of human rights and civil liberties. The November clashes with armed forces were a result of more than 50,000 protesters taking the streets to criticize the military's continued control over the country since the February overthrow [JURIST reports] of Hosni Mubarak.