Creating new perspectives since 2009

Rabaa has reached its 10th year

August 14, 2023 at 6:20 pm

Yellow balloons and pictures of victims of the Cairo’s Rabaa Square massacre are displayed outside Houses of Parliament as members of the British Egyptian community stage a demonstration on the eight anniversary of the peaceful protest in London, United Kingdom on August 14, 2021 [Wiktor Szymanowicz – Anadolu Agency]

The Rabaa and Al-Nahda square massacres are still stuck in my mind, and my heart refuses to let them go. It is as if time stopped there. This event lives in my mind, with vivid pictures of the day. On occasions I speak to the memories and my body shudders. 

The ten years that have passed since the massacre have failed to push the memories away. They are dark pages in Egypt’s history. The conscience of those who planned this massacre died, along with those who knew about it and approved it, and the officers who carried it out, pulled the trigger and killed their fellow countrymen who were helpless and unarmed and had nothing to protect them from the storm of bullets raining down on them. 

How can I forget the most heinous massacre in modern history, with a thousand dead in a matter of hours at the hands of their fellow countrymen? How can I forget the great deception that they promoted and which they called the “safe passage”, which was like a net with which they caught unarmed protesters to kill them? How can I forget their brutal removal of the medical equipment installed for the injured who were trying to receive first aid in the field hospital, and how can I forget how they burned the corpses of the martyrs in the field hospital? How can I forget that they burned the mosque?

Rabaa massacre ‘critical turning point for human rights,’ says Amnesty

How can I forget the bulldozers that carried the corpses of innocent people to throw them in the garbage? How can I forget the screams of children and the terror and panic that befell them from the bullets and flying flames? How can I forget the elderly mother who embraced her son crying and said, “They killed you, but they do not know that you are my supporter after the death of your father”? How can I forget the young boy who stood over his mother’s body and begged her to wake up? How can I forget all of these tragedies and many more? Time has stopped for me at this black day in the history of Egypt, which has never witnessed a massacre like it in its modern history. It is truly the massacre of the century!

The perpetrators of the massacre of the century that took place on 14 August 2013, (those who planned and executed it), are still alive, enjoying luxury and a rich life. They have not been brought to justice, even though the massacre was in full view of the whole world and the perpetrators were witnessed committing their crime and are known to the world. 

Although ten years have passed since the massacre of Rabaa and Al-Nahda, many of its secrets are still a mystery. 

We heard a lot of talk, immediately after the massacre, about lawsuits that will be filed in international courts against the perpetrators of the massacre, especially since Human Rights Watch (HRW) had identified the names of the perpetrators, and the Muslim Brotherhood appointed a major legal office in Britain to file the lawsuit, but it was said that it was refused in form, then it was said that they would file the lawsuit in another country. However, we didn’t hear anything about it afterwards, and we fear that it could be forgotten, especially since the state wants to obliterate all traces of it. 

Egypt’s parliament recently issued a law providing officers with immunity from legal proceedings, this is nothing more than fear of legal accountability in the future, especially since these crimes do not have a statute of limitation. The first paragraph of Article VII of the Rome Statute classifies what happened as a crime against humanity, and Article XV of the same agreement obliges the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to directly investigate such crimes, but unfortunately, the ICC has rejected the request submitted by a number of lawyers to look into the massacre because the request was not submitted on behalf of the Egyptian state and because Egypt is not a party to the Rome Statute, which includes the jurisdiction of the ICC. It is ironic that it was the late President Mohamed Morsi who would not sign the Rome Statute. 

 The Rabaa Massacre

Everything that happened in the Rabaa massacre must be documented, in sound and video, along with the testimonies of the witnesses who survived it and must be kept in an international archive that the entire world can access so that the memory remains alive in the hearts and consciences of people and to keep it from being forgotten. It would be even better if 14 August could be marked as the International Day for the Victims of Peaceful Protests.

Rabaa remains a pain in our hearts and a deep wound in our souls that is still bleeding because the perpetrators have not yet been punished. 

Rabaa was the last cry of the resistance against the regional project to kill the Arab Spring revolutions, which they silenced with their deadly bullets to destroy the dreams of the Arab peoples for freedom, dignity and justice. They want to take them back to their former lives of slavery, oppression, humiliation and poverty!

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.