CAIRO (AP) — Rights group Amnesty International called on Egypt’s government on Monday to launch a full and impartial investigation into the use of live ammunition by police to disperse protesters last week.
The London-based group said police used excessive and deadly force against supporters of the ousted Islamist president and that, in a number of cases, bystanders or non-violent protesters were caught up in the violence.
The Health Ministry said at least 50 people, mostly in Cairo, were killed in the Oct. 6 protests, the latest turmoil to hit Egypt since a popular uprising in 2011. Political violence has seen an uptick since a July 3 military coup overthrew President Mohammed Morsi, with well over 1,000 of his supporters killed and more than 2,000 jailed, including leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood group.
“Although some pro-Morsi protesters threw rocks, burned tires and used fireworks or other incendiaries against security forces and local residents, the security forces — once again — resorted to the use of lethal force when it was not strictly necessary,” said Amnesty. “Excessive use of force seems to have become the ‘normal’ modus operandi of Egyptian security forces.”
The military-backed Egyptian government has authorized security forces to use live ammunition to defend themselves and in case of attacks on vital state installations.
The Brotherhood has used the killing of pro-Morsi supporters at the hands of police to strengthen a narrative of martyrdom in hopes of winning back popular support it lost during the one-year rule of Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president. The group insists it will not negotiate a way out of the ongoing political crisis before Morsi is reinstated and the suspension of an Islamist-tilted constitution adopted last year is lifted.
The government says it is keen on political inclusion but only if all parties accept to put Morsi’s ouster behind them and accept a political road map that envisions a nationwide vote on amendments to the 2012 constitution by the end of this year and parliamentary and presidential elections by early 2014.
Morsi has been held at an undisclosed destination since his ouster. His trial on charges of ordering the killing of protesters last December is due to begin Nov. 4.