Widespread student protests against the repressive practices of the current government have rocked Egypt since the academic year began on October 11th. The subsequent crackdown by the authorites has been marked by arbitrary and excessive use of force resulting in hundreds of arrests and injuries.
Amnesty International Canada and the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy have co-authored the following statement of solidarity:
We, the undersigned student associations and clubs, are following closely the situation in Egypt and the violation of the basic human rights of Egyptian students in universities all over Egypt since the start of the school year there in October.
Universities should be celebrated as a place for debate and dissent. Instead, student activism has been stifled and crushed. The Egyptian authorities have imposed strict security measures on campuses and used excessive force – including shooting tear gas inside buildings and firing shotguns randomly – to put down protests. At least one student in Alexandria died as a result of injuries from shotgun pellets in October, with another 90 students injured and some 200 arrested.
Any use of force in the policing of demonstrations, even when they have turned violent or are regarded by the authorities as illegal, must comply with international law.
We stand in solidarity with Egyptian students’ right to freedom of expression and to peaceful assembly, and to a campus environment that is free from fear, intimidation and police abuse.
We call on the Canadian Government, civil society and human rights groups to exert all possible pressure on the Egyptian authorities to:
- Drop all charges and immediately and unconditionally release all students arrested solely for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly.
- Ensure anyone suspected of violence is tried fairly in line with international standards and only on recognizably criminal charges.
- Hold security forces accountable for excessive use of force against protesters and bring those responsible for arbitrary or abusive force to justice.
- Ensure that students are able to exercise the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in a safe environment on university campuses.
If your university or school group would like to sign on to this statement, please contact Hilary Homes at Amnesty’s National office: firstname.lastname@example.org.