11 October 2011 The United Nations human rights office today voiced its regret over the loss of life in the violent clashes on Sunday in the Egyptian capital and called on authorities to carry out an impartial and independent investigation into the incident.
At least 24 people are reported to have been killed – mostly Christians – and hundreds injured as a result of the protest against a church attack turning violent in Cairo, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said.
“We call on the authorities to investigate and to ensure the impartiality and independence of the investigation,” Rupert Colville, OHCHR’s spokesperson in Geneva, told reporters.
According to the Office, eyewitnesses to the incident claimed to have seen military vehicles driving into the crowd of protesters and running over some demonstrators. Also, several of the dead were found to have crushed limbs and others reportedly had bullet wounds.
“We express our regret over the loss of life as well as over those injured while attempting to exercise their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression,” said Mr. Colville.
He recalled that the Egyptian revolution was achieved through “non-violence and responsible assembly and expression,” and urged the authorities to ensure the protection of all, including minority groups, in their rightful exercise of such freedoms.
In February popular protests aimed at greater freedoms in Egypt – part of a series of uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East – toppled the long-standing regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Yesterday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had voiced deep sadness at Sunday’s clashes and called on all Egyptians to preserve “the spirit of the historic changes” that took place earlier this year.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban appealed to Egyptians to remain united and called on the country’s transitional authorities to guarantee the human rights and civil liberties of all citizens, regardless of their faith.
News Tracker: past stories on this issue