Prosecutor Mustafa Khater
That call for restraint on “all sides,” in the face of days of excessive use of force by police and soldiers, was met with incredulity in Cairo. Security forces have shot not only tear gas and rubber bullets, but bird shot and live ammunition at protesters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails. “Should we stop dying? Is that how we should show restraint?” scoffed protester Salma Ahmed as heavy gunfire echoed through Tahrir Square.
Indeed, the SCAF has committed to respect and uphold freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, but many demonstrations have been violently dispersed, with the armed forces using excessive and lethal force, while riot police resumed their reckless use of rubber bullets, shotguns and tear gas. Protesters have been arrested, detained incommunicado and tortured before being tried unfairly before military courts and convicted. Some 12,000 civilians have been tried before military courts since January. In October, the SCAF announced they would end trials of civilians before military courts, except in cases involving attacks on the armed forces but no timescale was given and no steps have yet been taken to this end.
While the SCAF has been paying lip service to respecting freedom of expression, it has placed arbitrary restrictions on the media and others. Criticism of the authorities has been suppressed, and journalists, bloggers and others taken to court for their criticism of the SCAF’s policies and the slow pace of reform. Newspapers have had some of their editions confiscated. TV stations, including Al Jazeera’s Mubasher Egypt (Al Jazeera Live Egypt), were raided and ordered to close and licenses for satellite TV stations were frozen. In October, newspapers protested the increasing military censorship by publishing blank columns. Broken Promises: Egypt’s Military Rulers Erode Human Rights (PDF) from Amnesty International