• December 16, 2014
  • 6 minutes read

Human Rights Report Reveals Significant Junta Violations of Sinai Peninsula Civilians

Human Rights Report Reveals Significant Junta Violations of Sinai Peninsula Civilians
The independent (non-government) Egyptian Observatory for Rights and Freedoms (EORF)’s human rights violations unit issued a report on the violations committed by army troops and police forces against civilians in northern Sinai during the first 45 days of the ‘state of emergency’ imposed by the coup commander Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi since October 2014.

In its report "Stat of Emergency – The Harvest", EORF said army troops launched a non-stop campaign of violations and brutal crimes against civilians, as if the declaration of the ‘state of emergency’ was meant to open the way for the army and police to expand the scope of violations – both in number and geographical area – against civilians.

EORF’s rights report comes 45 days after the declaration of the state of emergency in the Sinai (half the period prescribed for the state of emergency). EORF’s specialized unit successfully documented military offenses committed against civilians, despite severe difficulties faced by rights groups endeavoring to monitor and document crimes committed against the people of the Sinai. Those junta forces’ crimes and violations are as follows:

Extrajudicial killings: 65 people, of whom 14 were killed in mysterious circumstances (armed forces dead: 2)

Injuries: 42 people

Arrests: 330 people

EORF’s unit monitoring human rights violations in the ‘war on terror’ said that since the declaration of the state of emergency, the Egyptian army began an evacuation of the area along the border between Palestinian Rafah and Egypt. Junta forces destroyed at least 800 civilian residential buildings, forcibly evacuated almost 1,165 families from their homes, about 10,000 of them move to the town of El-Arish, while others moved in with relatives.

Junta authorities went ahead with evictions, completely ignoring the main guarantees required by international law, including consultations with residents, adequate advance notice, compensation for their losses, and alternative housing for those who cannot provide for themselves. Therefore, these evictions are illegal. Plans to expand the width of the buffer zone to 500 meters have raised concerns of a potential increase in forced evictions in the coming weeks.

EORF’s report pointed that the declaration of the state of emergency caused greater security problems and exacerbated the crisis instead of resolving it. In any event, the state of emergency has evidently been used purely for political purposes unrelated to maintaining national security or the situation of civilians in northern Sinai. Indeed, everyone was shocked to witness the sheer violence used by army forces in dealing with civilians, which certainly seemed more like revenge for victims of the terrorist attack earlier.

EORF’s affirms that violations committed by military and police forces against civilians feed cancerous growth of terrorism in the Sinai, as they also trample citizens’ rights and the norms prevailing in Bedouin community for decades.

In fact, EORF finds that these systematic abuses by the army and police against civilians amount to war crimes, and calls on the International Red Cross, the United Nations’ Human Rights Council and other international and local human rights organizations to take all necessary actions to at least help remove the deliberate blocking of reporting on violations in the Sinai, and to assist in documenting abuses carried out continuously since the June 30, 2013 coup.

In conclusion, EORF urged Egyptian authorities to immediately stop forced displacement and the demolition of homes, search for alternative options for security solutions, aim to make a real development in the Sinai Peninsula, engage the people in the great wealth and resources that abound in the Sinai, endeavor for reconciliation with the people and the tribes, compensate the families and parents for any damages they suffered, and bring to trial all the perpetrators of the crimes committed against the peninsula’s people, otherwise the Sinai will remain a hotbed of tension and a source of concern and unrest for Egyptian national security in the long term.