Oxfam strongly condemns the use of excessive force by the Egyptian authorities against peaceful demonstrators

Published: 24th November 2011

International aid agency Oxfam is deeply concerned about the escalating violence witnessed across Egypt and strongly condemns the excessive use of force by Egyptian security forces against peaceful demonstrators.

The Egyptian authorities should be held responsible for the unjustifiable use of live bullets, rubber coated steel bullets and lethal quantities of tear gas against civilians.

Oxfam calls on the international community to immediately take a strong stand to support the Egyptian people and to put pressure on the Egyptian authorities to abide by their obligations under international human rights law. In addition, the international community must suspend supplies of tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds now being used against the demonstrators. 

Jeremy Hobbs Oxfam International Executive Director said: “In the wake of the departure from power of Hosni Mubarak, Western leaders promised not to repeat the mistakes of the past, of choosing to support their regional allies in the name of stability, at the expense of people’s human rights. It is the time to put action in the place of words. Failure to do so implicates these governments in the violence witnessed these past days.”

Hundreds of people have suffered eye injuries in clashes with civil and military police forces, mainly due to indiscriminate firing of shot-gun shells and rubber-coated bullets used by Egyptian security to try to disperse demonstrators.

Staff members of two Oxfam partner organisations have been seriously harmed in the protests. On Saturday (19/11), Malek Mustafa, a human rights activist working for the Hisham Mubarak Law centre was shot in the eye in Cairo’s Tahrir square. He was transferred to hospital for emergency surgery. As yet, it is unclear whether he will be able to use his eye again.

On Monday night, Ahmed Fiqqi, a radio journalist for the independent media organization, Hoqook.com was also shot in the eye; the bullet lodged in his head. It is currently unclear whether part of his eye-sight can be saved. He may require brain surgery. Five other members of Hoqook.com were injured as they attempted to cover the clashes that erupted last Saturday in Cairo and numerous other cities across Egypt.

Today, Thursday, official casualty figures stand at over 3000 injured and 38 killed from asphyxiation or bullets. Violent beatings of demonstrators using truncheons have also been recorded by human rights organizations, including Oxfam partner, Hisham Mubarak Law Centre. Lethal quantities of tear gas have been used to disperse the demonstrators on a massive scale. Many protesters and journalists report having suffered from severely burning skin and eyes, choking, dizziness, nausea, and disorientation as a result of continuous attacks with tear gas. Field doctors have reported that live bullets have been extracted from injured and dead demonstrators.

All eyes are on Cairo’s Tahrir Square right now, as the people of Egypt stand up for their freedom. The people of Egypt need your support. Let them know you’re with them by tweeting with the hashtag #tahrir. Tweet “I support #Tahrir from... (location) and your tweet will be read by protesters throughout Egypt. 

Oxfam’s partners in Egypt are actively supporting their people in their struggle for democracy and freedom. Visit www.meanwhileinegypt.org/tahrir for the latest tweets, statements and petitions, pictures and blogs from Tahrir square. 

Contact information

For more information please contact:
Jolanda van Santen (Oxfam) + 31 70 34 21 956/ +31 622 38 86 99

To contact Oxfam partners: 

  • HMLC: Ahmad Ragheb, ahmedraghiib@gmail.com, mob: +20 (0) 10608 16511
  • Hoqook.com: Sameh Saeid, Sameh.Saeid@hotmail.com , mob: +20 (0) 11122 00526