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HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SAYS CONFRONTATIONAL APPROACH IN EGYPT IS LEADING TO DISASTER

29 July 2013

GENEVA (28 July 2013) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Sunday added her voice to the widespread condemnation of two days of violence in Egypt that led to the killing of more than 80 people, and the wounding of hundreds more, and -- citing the latest uncompromising announcement from the Ministry of Interior --warned that the confrontational approach by both sides “is leading to disaster.”

For the second time in a month, Ms. Pillay called for a credible, independent and prompt investigation into large-scale killings, in which the security forces appear to be heavily implicated.

“Despite all the warnings, all the calls for restraint, more than 150 Egyptians have died during protests over the past month, not just in Cairo but in other cities as well,” she said. “I fear for the future of Egypt if the military and other security forces, as well as some demonstrators, continue to take such a confrontational and aggressive approach. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have the right to protest peacefully like anyone else.”

Noting conflicting claims about the extent and causes of the killings, Ms. Pillay said “it was extremely urgent that a credible, independent investigation is carried out, and that, if it is found that security forces employed excessive use of force, the officers responsible should be charged and brought to justice.”

The High Commissioner said she was extremely alarmed by “the increasingly dangerous polarization that is gripping the country.”

“Egypt stands at a crossroads. The future of this great country that gave so much to civilization, depends on how its citizens and authorities act over the following days and months,” she added.

“I urge all parties to set aside their grievances and engage in urgent national dialogue with the aim of restoring constitutional order through free and democratic elections and to end the violence and all hate speech,” Ms. Pillay said. “It is time to think of the future of Egypt and all its inhabitants, not of the narrower interests and ambitions of any particular group or institution.”

“As the UN Secretary-General has said, Egypt’s security forces must act with full respect for human rights, including guaranteeing the rights to free speech and assembly,” Ms. Pillay said. “Protestors must also exercise restraint and ensure their gatherings remain peaceful. Given what has happened in recent days, further protests are inevitable, and the onus is clearly on both the security forces and the protestors to ensure there is no repetition of yesterday’s terrible and deeply tragic events.”

For further information and media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+ 41 79 506 1088 / rcolville@ohchr.org ); Liz Throssell (+ 41 22 917 9434 / ethrossell@ohchr.org ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 or +41 79 618 3430 /cpouilly@ohchr.org )

For more information on EGYPT, go to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/MENARegion/Pages/EGIndex.aspx

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For use of the information media; not an official record

HC13/57E