Amnesty International: Stop sending munitions to Egypt

Weapons suppliers should stop selling munitions to the Egyptian military and security forces, international human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in a statement released on 19 December.

“It can no longer be considered acceptable to supply the Egyptian army with the types of weaponry, munitions and other equipment that are being used to help carry out the brutal acts we have seen used against protesters,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.

Egyptian military and Interior Ministry forces have been engaged in a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests over the past five days. At least 13 people have been killed, most by gunfire, since the fighting started on Friday.

Around 45 people were killed in five days of clashes between Ministry of Interior forces and protesters last month. Many of those killed suffocated while inhaling tear gas. A number of protesters lost their eyes after being shot with rubber-coated pellets or birdshot.

Amnesty condemned "the excessive use of force against protesters and called for a cessation of all transfers of small arms, light weapons and related munitions and equipment to Egypt, as well as a halt to all internal security equipment that could be used to violently suppress human rights, such as tear gas, rubber and plastic bullets and armored vehicles.”

Photographs and videos of army violence against protesters have been widely circulated in social and traditional media, both inside Egypt and internationally.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the Egyptian military’s use of violence against protesters. "Recent events in Egypt have been particularly shocking. Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago," Clinton said on Monday.

The United States provides Egypt’s army with approximately US$1.3 billion per year and is a main source of arms and crowd-control technology, such as tear gas.

Earlier this month Amnesty International released the findings of an investigation showing that the US had continued transferring ammunition to Egypt, even as security forces attacked and killed protesters.

“There has been welcome international condemnation of the SCAF’s actions, but more than words, we need to see concrete action by Egypt’s international partners to stop the abuses,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

“It is not enough to wait for the outcome of SCAF’s own investigations into killings of protesters or other investigations. Their allies need to take steps to stop this at the source.”

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