[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] spoke out [press release] Tuesday against the excessive force used by security personnel to control political protests in Egypt. The violent security response has led to the death of at least 20 people and includes a report of a peaceful female protestor in central Cairo being shot from behind by security personnel. Zeid said he was “deeply disturbed” by the force used against the Egyptian protestors. He urged Egyptian authorities to take action to end the violence, and expressed his belief that:
The long-term stability of Egypt is only possible if fundamental human rights are respected. Otherwise people’s grievances will fester and feelings of injustice will grow, creating fertile ground for further social and political unrest. It is in the interests of all sides to engage in meaningful dialogue and to make efforts to find peaceful solutions to Egypt’s many problems
Zeid encouraged the Egyptian government to take accountability for past injustices and encourages a non-violent approach to addressing political protestors.
Political conflict in Egypt has been ongoing since the 2011 revolution [JURIST backgrounder] that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile] from power. The political unrest led the Egyptian government to enact a law [JURIST report] banning unauthorized protests in November 2013. Since the law was passed numerous demonstrators have been detained, especially those affiliated with ousted former president Mohammad Morsi [BBC backgrounder] and his Muslim Brotherhood [party website]. In September a pan-Arab rights group released a report accusing Egyptian authorities of being complicit in the torture [JURIST report] and sexual abuse of detained teenage protesters. In October an Egyptian court sentenced 23 activists to three years in prison for protesting without a permit. On Monday Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld convictions [JURIST report] and three-year prison sentences of three activists for violating the country’s protest laws.