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Egyptian rights group: The army has committed crimes against humanity in Sinai

The Egyptian Observatory of Rights and Freedoms yesterday issued a report highlighting crimes against humanity committed by the Egyptian Army in the context of fighting “terrorist organisations” in the North Sinai governorate.

According to the Observatory, the army is committing murders, arrests, torture and the displacement of Egyptian citizens in the Sinai under the banner of the “war on terror”, while the media and security forces have been deliberately locked out.

In addition, the Observatory reported that “the army bases its operations against terrorism on illegal foundations and crimes are being committed against unarmed civilians.”

The Observatory said: “Since the coup on July 3, 2013, until now at least 200 citizens have been killed, 1,500 people have been arrested, more than 350 houses have been demolished, as well as the systematic torture within the Azula military prison on citizens of northern Sinai, without investigations.”

The report, entitled “When crimes become mere numbers and statistics”, went on to examine the violations of the Egyptian army during its operations in the Sinai, describing them as more than “crimes against humanity”.

According to the Observatory, military operations in Sinai carried out in the context of the war on terror are “in violation of laws and legal principles which brands them crimes against humanity. This is evident from the arrests and torture practiced upon hundreds of Egyptians in Sinai at the hands of the army.”

The Observatory affirmed that the term “war on terror is not a carte blanche on the basis of which the Egyptian Army is able to commit extrajudicial killings,” pointing out that the reports of the military spokesman have become tools to legitimise violations carried out almost daily.

The situation in northern Sinai is particularly dangerous for members of the media, journalists, researchers and jurists, the report warned. The current security crackdown is directly targeting anyone who aims to investigate or talk about the abuses committed by the military, at a time when the “army and their own propaganda machine are propagating their own version of the news to the world”.

The Observatory stressed that the rise in terrorist activities in the Sinai region and the punishment of its perpetrators requires a “radical revision of the failed policies in the fight against terrorism in Egypt since the 1970’s and particularly since 2004 in Sinai, which led to the growing dangers of terrorism.”

The report recommended that an alternative way to resolve the security issues be sought to bring about real development in the Sinai Peninsula whilst sharing the wealth that abounds in the Peninsula.

It suggested reconciling with the families and tribes that have been affected by previous events, compensating families and parents for the damage they may have suffered in the past, “otherwise Sinai will remain a hotbed of tension and a source of inconvenience and disturbance to the Egyptian national security in the long term.”

Source: Al Araby