Secretary Kerry Should Make Clear to Egypt’s Transitional Rulers that Rights and Freedoms Must Be Respected
New York City – Human Rights First today expresses concern over Secretary of State Kerry’s recent remarks during a television appearance in Pakistan that the “Egyptian military did not take over, but instead was ‘restoring democracy.’”
“It is shocking that, in the aftermath of serious violence in Egypt in which scores of supporters of elected, deposed president Mohamed Morsi were killed after having been fired on by Egyptian security forces, Secretary Kerry would use the term ‘restoring democracy’ to characterize events in Egypt,” said Human Rights First’s Neil Hicks. “It is even more alarming that he should use this language, which will be seen by Egypt’s military rulers as a green light to continue with their repressive policies, while the interim government has threatened to use all necessary measures to clear the remaining pro-Morsi protesters from the streets.”
Instead of voicing approval for the military’s take over in Egypt, which has deepened divisions and made the prospect of a peaceful, inclusive transition taking place more difficult, Human Rights First urges Secretary Kerry to call upon Egypt’s interim rulers to respect the rights of all citizens, including the right to peacfeul assembly.
“It will be a disaster for the United States if it is seen as having supported or condoned the overthrow by the military of Egypt’s first elected president,” said Hicks. “The credibility of the United States as a proponent of representative, responsive government will be undermined everywhere, not least in Pakistan, where the Secretary made his remarks. Extremists within Islamic political movements will feel vindicated in calling for the violent overthrow of western-backed governments in majority Muslim countries and in engaging in acts of terrorism against western targets everywhere.”
The uprisings of the spring of 2011 in Egypt and elsewhere were a moment of opportunity for the United States to build new relationships with its allies in the region based on mutual interests of respect for the rule of law and universal values of human rights. These opportunities have been squandered and the tragic consequences are becoming ever more visible in Egypt’s descent into a spiral of violence, notes the organization.
Secretary Kerry should clarify his position on Egypt, and make clear that the United States expects Egypt’s transitional rulers to respect the rights of freedoms of all Egyptians and to move towards the creation of an inclusive civilian government as soon as possible.