Egyptians in al-Arish, a city in northern Sinai, are threatening civil disobedience to protest against the extrajudicial killing of 10 youths by security forces.
Two days ago, Al-Arish residents met and issued a statement demanding the release of youths detained without charge and the trial of anyone who took part in the alleged extrajudicial killings of their sons.
A video of the meeting that circulated online shows around 100 people gathered in the home of a prominent al-Arish family, according to the Associated Press.
The residents also labelled Egypt’s interior minister “an enemy of the state,” and called on Sinai lawmakers to quit parliament in protest as well as the formation of a “popular committee” that would be tasked with organizing future protests, according to their statement.
Al-Arish leader said at the meeting, “Listen ruler of Egypt [Abdel Fattah al-Sisi], the sons of Al-Arish and the sons of Sinai are one hand.”
He added, “They will select a committee to speak on their behalf. They don’t feel that their sons are safe in your jails. They want all of them released immediately, especially those who have no court rulings issued against them.”
He also said, “They also want to bring to justice all those who killed our sons. Otherwise, we will bring them to justice our way.”
Moreover, the residents threatened to begin a civil disobedience campaign unless their demands were met within seven days.
On Friday, Egypt’s Interior Ministry announced that the police killed 10 Islamic militants in a shootout in al-Arish.
However, Al-Arish residents said that those who were killed had been in police custody since October.
A Human Rights Organization unveiled the Extrajudicial Killing of the 10 Youths in Sinai
Egypt’s Minister of Interior and the Egyptian Armed Forces assassinated 10 civilians last Friday and released a statement that accused them of being terrorists who launched operations against the EAF.
However, the minister of interior’s statement was faced with massive criticism from the human rights groups.
According to Sinai activists, victims’ families, and human rights organizations, most of the victims were detained for several months from coup authorities, while the minister of interior denied the claims in a statement that they were “militants who were killed in confrontations during shootouts on one of the ambushes.”
According to a statement released by Sinai Organization for Human Rights, the victims were under enforced disappearance for a long period of time and their relatives didn’t know how to contact them as they didn’t know their whereabouts or their custody places.
The statement also documented the victims’ names, ages, their addresses, when they were arrested and the conditions behind their arrest.
The statement read, “Sinai Organization for Human Rights has been briefed that the Egyptian police forces in cooperation with Armed have committed extrajudicial killings against civilians in their custody and they have been placed in a civilian site, which was described later as “a terrorist den” and photographed them as if they were plotting to carry out an operation against the security forces,” adding that, “these were common claims raised by the authorities in Egypt against those whom they exterminated.”
The rights group continued, “According to information obtained by the organization, what happened to those victims should be named as “massacres”, and Sinai for Human Rights expresses its grave concern over the of extrajudicial killings operations carried out by the Egyptian authorities against Sinai residents, and for not bringing those responsible for these crimes into justice, as well as its reluctance in conducting an urgent and serious investigations to stop the recurrence of such incidents, which gives a green light to kill and assassinate more civilians without any deterrence.”
Sinai Organization for Human Rights is an international non-governmental organization that monitors, supervises and documents the human rights situation in Egypt’s Sinai region through a network of researchers and those interested in supporting justice, freedom and preserving rights.
Human Rights Violations in Sinai Peninsula
The Egyptian government is accused of killing suspects in detention before claiming they were killed in shootouts.
According to a Human Rights Watch, the government said that its counter-terrorism operations in north Sinai killed at least 3,091 “terrorists” between January and July 2015.
According to Arab Organization for Human Rights, a London-based organization, reported that more than 361 people were killed in Sinai by the Egyptian army in 2014 for allegedly being wanted for terrorist activities.
The government releases little information about such operations and threatens journalists who report about them.
In August, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a law that provides for a fine of up to 500,000 Egyptian pounds (US$64,000) and a year-long work ban for anyone who reports information about terrorism that contradict the government.
In addition, nearly 1481 people have been arrested for the same reasons without a shred of evidence or legal due process, the organization said.
The residents of the northern Sinai region often complain of heavy-handed tactics by security forces, including collective punishment following particularly deadly attacks against government forces.
However, the security campaign grew more deadly and vigorous as the Egyptian military and police forces have been the target of ongoing attacks which have increased since al-Sisi military coup in 2013 that overthrew Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, the militant group responsible for a majority of attacks on military personnel, aligned with the Islamic State group in November 2014, changing its name to Sinai Province.