Egyptian Court Sentences 529 Protesters to Death
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today expressed deep concern over reports that hundreds of Egyptians have been sentenced to death for the killing of a police officer who died during last year’s riots following the military ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. This was the single biggest mass sentencing to death in Egypt’s modern history.
“We were shocked and disappointed to hear of the verdict sentencing 529 members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death in Minya,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “This verdict is an example of how the military-backed government is using the judiciary for political purposes; in this case to intimidate Muslim Brotherhood supporters. We are very concerned that the defendants in this case did not receive a fair trial, and we fear that this harsh sentence will only increase polarization in Egypt leading to more violence and instability.”
This news comes as Secretary of State John Kerry will soon decide whether to release a block of Apache helicopters to the Egyptian military, and to certify to Congress that Egypt is on a path toward democracy. Human Rights First urges the administration not to certify such progress since it is impossible to make such a case about Egypt. Since Morsi was ousted in 2013, the military government led by General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has engaged in a brutal crackdown on the political opposition, including killing thousands of demonstrators, jailing thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and prosecuting civil society activists and journalists to stifle dissent.
Human Rights First urges the United States to take concrete steps as outlined in the recent report “Back to Square One” to advance human rights and the rule of law in order to achieve greater stability in this vital country.