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Military-appointed panel blames protesters for Rabaa massacre

A government-administered human rights report criticised police forces for their use of excessive violence during the dispersal of the Rabaa protest camp in Cairo, August 14, 2013. The report was announced in a press conference Wednesday.

The report, issued by the military-appointed National Council on Human Rights – largely made up of pro-coup, anti-Morsi members – mentioned that ambulances failed to enter the site due to the violence and the protesters' resistance of police forces.

"Ambulances could not enter the [Rabaa] square until the end of dispersal, at 6:00 pm. At the press conference, members of the NCHR displayed photos and videos which they claimed were "evidence of armed resistance and usage of firearms by some protesters against police forces."

The report criticised police forces for starting the dispersal only 25 minutes after the evacuation alert, which was "not enough for evacuation". Additionally, the police forces, according to the report, "failed to consider proportionality in using force with armed elements." They also failed to provide "safe corridors" for protesters to leave the square.

Moreover, the report acknowledged "media incitement to hatred against Rabaa protesters" and recommended "an end to hate speech" used by media outlets.

Journalist and rights activist Qutb Al-Arabi dismissed the NCHR report as "a sham" and as "a security apparatus report, rather than a human rights report," because it included all narratives used by the Ministry of Interior since the dispersal, the same ministry responsible for the killings.

Al-Arabi pointed out that the NCHR report downplayed the numbers of fatalities, which it claimed were 632, while the official health ministry figures on the day following the dispersal were 688, not to mention the thousands of injured protesters who lost their lives afterwards.

He added that the report beautifies the image of the interior ministry, and largely places the blame on protesters, while only accusing the ministry of only technical mistakes. The report, according to Al-Arabi, excludes the army from the scene despite its involvement in the massacre, thus placing the responsibility squarely on the interior ministry and failing to hold the military leader, Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi accountable.

Human rights defenders and opponents of the bloody dispersal of Rabaa square have launched a worldwide campaign denouncing the crackdown, using the "R4BIA" sign as a reference to the massacre. The Rabaa logo, which immediately went viral following the massacre, is a picture of four black fingers in an upright position on a yellow background. Carrying the Rabaa sign is considered a crime in Egypt, and many have been imprisoned for using it.

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