France, UN condemn weekend of violence

France, UN condemn weekend of violence

A worker inspects the damage in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo on January 26, 2014 after it was hit during a car bomb explosion outside the police headquarters near the museum on January 24 in the capital. The explosion, which happened on the eve of of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, brought down the museum's ceilings and damaged exhibits.  (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMED EL-SHAHED)

A worker inspects the damage in the Museum of Islamic Art in Cairo on January 26, 2014 after it was hit during a car bomb explosion outside the police headquarters near the museum on January 24 .

The French foreign ministry and the United Nations have condemned the violence in Egypt, including the series of bomb attacks on Friday and the violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces on Saturday.

“France expresses its sympathy to the victims’ families. It reaffirms its condemnation of terrorism, irrespective of the perpetrators or motives,” read a Monday statement.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Monday she was “gravely concerned about the escalating violence” and called for “prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the killings, to make the findings public and to bring to justice those responsible, in accordance with international human rights standards”.

A total of four bombs exploded on Friday, the first and largest outside the Cairo Security Directorate that left four dead and at least 76 people injured as well as causing extensive damage the security building and the Museum of Islamic Art. Three more bombs on Friday resulted in two more deaths and around a dozen injuries. Militant groups claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Saturday, the third anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, saw supporters of the interim government and military gather in Tahrir Square for celebrations. However, in the surrounding streets demonstrators and security forces clashed. Clashes occurred in other parts of greater Cairo and in other areas of the country. By the end of the day the Ministry of Health announced that 49 people had been killed, but the following day an independent count put the figure at 89. The Ministry of Interior announced that it had arrested 1,079 people on Saturday.

Pillay called for “all sides to renounce the use of violence” and stressed that “security forces have a duty to respect the right to peaceful protest”. She highlighted the importance for the authorities to “comply with their international obligation to ensure that all Egyptians can exercise their rights to free assembly and freedom of expression without fear of violence or arrest”. She also called on demonstrators to protest peacefully.

The UN statement pointed to the guidelines set out by the international body for the use of live ammunition by security forces, which forbids the use of “firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.”

The statement from Paris called “for respect for the freedom of assembly and the freedom to demonstrate and reaffirms the duty to exercise this right in a peaceful manner”. It also expressed French support for Egypt’s transitional roadmap, saying it “should lead to the establishment of democratic and civilian institutions that will guarantee fundamental freedoms.”

Pillay also expressed her concern over arrests connected to protests, saying those arrested “should either be promptly released or charged with a recognisable criminal offence”.


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