Tags: egypt | army | tahrir | shooting

Egyptian Military Using Live Fire Ammunition Against Protesters

Thursday, 24 Nov 2011 04:48 PM

By Newsmax Wires

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A disturbing video of Egyptian protests near Tahrir Square shows police and armed forces using live ammunition against innocent protesters.

In the YouTube video entitled, "The Battle of Mohamed Mahmoud Street," a series of video clips depict security forces wantonly firing live ammunition at protesters who are at a distance and offering no  immediate threat to the police.

In the past week. Egyptian protesters have taken to the streets to criticize the military for not handing over power to a civilian-led interim  government.

Protesters and international organizations have condemned police brutality in the crackdown, especially on the streets around Tahrir Square, where fighting has been intense and not obvious to the international media present on the square.

The London-based Guardian newspaper reported Thursday that human rights groups confirmed through reports from physicians on the group that live ammunition had been used against anti-junta demonstrators in Tahrir Square. {See Video Below}

According to morgue officials, at least 22 Egyptians have been killed by live bullets since street battles began on Saturday, directly contradicting government statements that security forces have never opened fire on protesters.

Newsmax reported Wednesday that Egyptian security forces had been using a banned nerve agent known as CR gas on protesters. The gas is lethal and had caused fatalities and more than 1000 injuries.

"Time and time again the military has insisted that it has not used live ammunition against protesters, as if it is somehow not responsible for the riot police operating under military command and control," Sarah Leah Witson of Human Rights Watch, which has investigated the killings, told the Guardian. "It is irrelevant whether the live ammunition came from the riot police or the military police. What is relevant is who gave the orders to shoot live bullets on protesters, and when they will be prosecuted for it."

According to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a Cairo-based human rights organisation that has been investigating the use of live ammunition by security forces, some protesters have been shot dead while trying to come to the aid of others.

Legal experts say that the use of live rounds could be in contravention of both Egyptian and international law. "Egypt is a member of the international covenant on civil and political rights, and article six of the covenant prohibits any arbitrary deprivation of life," said Ruth Wedgwood, an international law professor at Johns Hopkins University and a former member of the UN human rights committee.

"The use of deadly force is restricted to imminent threat. If there was an attempt to use firearms to intimidate, make a political point or discourage protesting in general, then that would certainly be pressing the boundaries of legality under international law," she explained, adding that more senior commanders could be held responsible.

The Egyptian armed forces appeared to acknowledge wrongdoing in their handling of the protests by taking the unusual step of posting an apology to their Facebook page.

“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths of martyrs from among Egypt’s loyal sons during the recent events in Tahrir Square,” two generals said in a statement. “The council also offers its condolences to the families of the martyrs across Egypt.”

At the same time the military insisted it would not postpone  parliamentary elections set for Monday, Nov. 28. Several political parties are warning that the military and government may be seeking to benefit from the country's political chaos and engage in vote fraud during the process.

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