With reports making headlines that demonstrators were beaten, detained, and abused, the United States of America today slammed Egypt’s repression of freedom of assembly and association.
The violent repression of a demonstration in the country’s capital led to 90 people being arrested.
The crowd of 200 to 1,000 protestors were calling for political reform and for an end to the 29-year government-imposed state of emergency.
In a press statement in Washington DC, Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the United States is deeply concerned about the worsening climate for freedom of assembly and peaceful expression in Egypt.
She said the implementation of Egypt’s restrictive demonstrations law has led to an increase in arrests, detentions, and charges against opposition figures, human rights activists and peaceful demonstrators, and sends a chilling message to civil society at large.
“In particular, we believe that the verdicts issued December 22 do not contribute to an open electoral environment or a transition process.” – Ms. Psaki
The US government urged the Egyptian government to fulfill its commitment to implement an inclusive democratic transition.
In addition, Ms. Harf urged the government to permit an open environment in which Egyptians are free to campaign and vote in favor or against the draft constitution on January 14-15, or abstain from the process entirely.
Police Peating Protestors
A crowd of around one thousand protestors staged a peaceful protest outside the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the High Court (Dar al-Qada al-Ali) in Cairo.
Witnesses report Egypt’s security forces closed the area and indiscriminately beat men and women, including the elderly.
The rage of protests escalated with the growing dissatisfaction against government policies including the rising cost of living, low wages and lack of labour rights.
Since the state of emergency was imposed in 1981, the Egyptian authorities have used emergency law provisions to ban demonstrations and curb freedom of expression.
In May 2012, with the hope of regaining the country’s stability after the revolution, Egyptians headed to the polls to cast their ballots in the country’s first free vote for a leader in 5,000 years of history.
Around 50 million eligible Egyptian voters were called upon to choose 13 candidates.
Earlier in 2012, President Obama proposed a $1 billion cancellation of Egyptian debt to support Egypt’s economic recovery.
Egypt has made progress on human rights since the revolution that toppled the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Long-standing regimes were toppled by a wave of pro-democracy protests that have engulfed much of North Africa and the Middle East in 2011, particularly in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.