Egyptians protest to demand fate of missing loved ones

– Dozens protest in Cairo to call on authorities to disclose fate of those who have disappeared since Egypt’s 2013 military coup

Dozens of Egyptians staged a protest outside the parliament building in Cairo on Tuesday to demand that the authorities disclose the fate of friends and relatives who have been forcibly disappeared since the country’s bloody 2013 military coup, reported Anadolu Agency.

The demonstration was the first of its kind since Egypt’s new parliament began convening in January.

Ibrahim Metwalli, head of the Association for Defending the Forcibly Disappeared, an NGO that organized the event, told Anadolu Agency that he had submitted a memorandum to the authorities — signed by 13 families — to demand the formation of a fact-finding committee to look into the fate of their disappeared relatives.

Following the demonstration, association members submitted the memorandum to two parliamentary officials and gave them one week to address their grievances, Metwalli said.

Metwalli told Anadolu Agency that his son, Amr, had disappeared in August 2013 after clashes in Cairo between security forces and supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt’s first freely-elected president, Morsi was ousted in a military coup in early July of 2013.

According to a report released earlier this week by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, a Cairo-based NGO, at least 912 Egyptians have been forcibly disappeared over the course of the last year.

The report was released a day after another report was issued by the Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms — another Cairo-based NGO — that documented 1,001 cases of forcible disappearance in the first half of 2016 alone.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Salah Sallam, a member of the government-run National Council for Human Rights, said the council did not recognize any statistics that had not been directly reported to it.

According to Sallam, the council received 321 complaints of forcible disappearance this year, 261 of which, he claimed, had since been accounted for.

In the more than three years since the military coup against Morsi, the Egyptian authorities have waged a vicious crackdown on the ousted president’s supporters and members of his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

The crackdown has seen hundreds killed and tens of thousands thrown behind bars.

In a related development, the Arab Organization for Human Rights reported on Tuesday that Syria, Iraq and Egypt topped the list of Arab countries in terms of the frequency of forcible disappearances.

According to the U.K.-based NGO, forcible disappearances soared in Egypt after the 2013 coup, when more than 65,000 Egyptians were arbitrarily rounded up — mostly for their political views — for periods of more than 24 hours.

Many of these, the NGO added, remain unaccounted for until today.