Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi will head to Gabon in an official visit. Al-Sisi’s visit to Gabon comes on the anniversary of Egypt’s Rabaa Massacre, the largest killings of protesters in a single day in recent history.
Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Tareq Qabil said Al-Sisi’s African tour, which takes him to Tanzania, Rwanda, Chad and Gabon, represents an important step towards enhancing strategic relations with African states whether at the political or economic levels. Also, Qabil said the economic file will top Al-Sisi’s talks with the leaders of the four African nations he will visit.
Al-Sisi and Gabonese President Ali Bongo in February last year signed five memoranda of understanding (MOUs) in the fields of politics, education, culture, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.
A statement by the Egyptian presidency said Sisi’s visit “comes within the framework of Egypt’s openness to the African continent and its keenness to further strengthen relations”. Egypt is currently a member of the UN Security Council, representing Africa, and has recently been pushing for stronger trade with other countries on the continent.
According to the presidency’s statement, trade between Egypt and African countries increased by $300 million year-on-year to reach $4.8 billion in 2016. The statement added that African issues have become a top priority in Egyptian foreign policy.
4 Years after Egypt’s Rabaa Massacre, largest killings of protesters in a single day in recent history
Four years have passed since the Egyptian army and security forces brutally dispersed the peaceful sit-in in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. Memories of the day remain as harrowing as ever for those who witnessed the events, especially the doctors working in Rabaa Field Hospital.
On August 14, 2013, protesters’ encampments in the square and by the hospital were bulldozed and more than two thousand protesters killed in a space of ten hours.
This wasn’t merely a case of excessive force or poor training. It was a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government. Many of the same officials are still in power in Egypt, and have a lot to answer for.
Human Rights Watch has said it was “one of the largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history” and that it was “a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government”. The Special Forces carried out the attack in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square with armored personnel carriers, bulldozers, ground troops and snipers.
The security forces have always maintained that some of the demonstrators were armed and that there were so-called “terrorists” among their numbers, which was never documented by authorities, and always denied by protesters. Human Rights Watch observer Omar Shakir says that their research team was there “when security forces fired on the Rabaa hospital, then overtook the building, ordered medical personnel, families, and the injured out of the hospital, and that structure was later set ablaze”.
Despite a wealth of compelling evidence implicating the Egyptian army and security forces in killing protesters, no one has ever been brought to trial and the Egyptian government is yet openly to investigate the incident. The Egyptian National Council of Human Rights did produce a report on the events but its findings are at odds with both Human Rights Watch and the witnesses in this film.
Dr Hanan al-Amin, one of the doctors on call that day, struggled for hours attempting to treat the hundreds of injured – but at 4 pm she was standing among increasing numbers of bodies. As she treated three patients simultaneously, an officer instructed her to leave the hospital. When she protested, he shot them all dead and told her she was next if she did not obey his orders to evacuate. Moments later, the field hospital, mosque and first floor of the field hospital were set on fire.
Former UN Secretary General ‘ElBaradei’ releases a new testimony on Rabaa massacre
Mohamed ElBaradei -Egypt’s former Vice-President for Foreign Affairs, and former United Nations Secretary General- stated that on August 6, 2013, he was accused by one of the well-known writers in a state-owned newspaper of being “a dangerous man to the people and the state”, according to Al-Shorouk Egyptian newspaper on Nov. 14, 2016.
ElBaradei added on his official Facebook page, “In the evening of the same day, I was subjected to fierce attack by some guests on TV channels. Then, this was followed by a letter from a sovereign agency (often referring to the intelligence service) on the next day telling me that this was just a warning and they will destroy me if I continue in my attempts to reach a peaceful resolution to disperse the sit-ins or a formula for national reconciliation.”
He continued, “On August 14, 2013 and after the use of force in dispersing the sit-ins, there was a hysterical campaign by the “national” forces and even those who call themselves “the elite” and some of the “revolution youth” welcoming strongly the use of violence. They attacked me harshly for my immediate resignation once I was informed of the use of force, refusing to take any responsibility in a decision in which I did not participate, but in fact, I opposed it as I had a conviction that there were peaceful alternatives for healing the rift at that time.”
ElBaradei ended his statement saying, “At that moment, I realized with sadness that in this climate there is no space for me to participate in the public work, as I would not be able to swim alone against the current. As a result, the best alternative to me was to stay away from a scene that is against my vision, conviction, and my conscience.”
ElBaradei said that he opposed the dispersal, arguing that there were “almost agreed upon political solutions” on the table that could have served as an alternative to a “spiral of violence and division.”
Later, he resigned from his post, prompting attacks launched by media figures against the decision.
ElBaradei laments the media attacks that persist to this day, mainly focusing on the timing of the dispersal and ElBaradei’s role in delaying the move, while maintaining that the dispersal could not have happened “peacefully.”
U.N. calls for a full investigation into Egypt’s Rabaa massacre
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called, on Saturday (13 August, 2016), for conducting a full investigation into the killing of hundreds of civilians at the hands of the Egyptian police and army forces during the dispersal of Rabaa sit-in, east of Cairo, Egypt, on August 14, 2013.
The deputy spokesman of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Farhan Haq, said: Ban Ki-moon believes it is very important to conduct a full investigation into the killing of hundreds of civilians during the dispersal of Rabaa Al-Adaweya square’s sit-in on August 14, 2013″.
Commenting on the calls for the establishment of an international commission to investigate the massacre and to prosecute the perpetrators, Haq confirmed, according to Anadolu Agency, that “the UN Human Rights Council is the body authorized to establish a committee to investigate all human rights violations resulting from the mass killings of protesters (in Egypt) during that day.”
The UN Secretary-General emphasized “the importance of respecting the right to peaceful protest and freedom of assembly” during the demonstrations that the anti-coup protesters and supporters of legitimacy intend to organize on the third anniversary of the dispersal of Rabaa sit-in.”