Egyptians march on Tahrir Square to mark one year since clashes

Updated 20 November 2012

Egyptians march on Tahrir Square to mark one year since clashes

CAIRO: Hundreds marched on Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday to mark one year since deadly clashes that left 45 people dead, piling pressure on President Muhammad Mursi to bring his predecessor’s police to account.
Around 50 political parties and movements took part in the commemoration, furious that a year after the clashes on Mohammed Mahmud street, no police officers have been held accountable for the deaths.
On a street branching off from the square, protesters and police lobbed stones at each other but there were no reports of casualties, a security official said.
Many carried flags with pictures of protesters who died in last year’s clashes as the chanting crowd demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.
“Whether there will be justice for victims of the Mohammad Mahmud protest, named after the street where it began, is a key test of President Muhammad Mursi’s commitment to police accountability and comprehensive security sector reform,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Activists are staging a series of events over the week to mark last year’s clashes that lasted five days — including yesterday’s march on Tahrir.
“Since January 2011, the police have been literally getting away with murder, again and again,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“President Mursi should use the anniversary of the Mohammad Mahmud protest to end this impunity and begin a comprehensive process of police reform to deter further abuse,” Houry said.


Confrontations between protesters and security forces raged for five days in November 2011 on Mohammad Mahmud Street, near Cairo’s Tahrir Square — the epicenter of protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak months earlier.
Human Rights Watch says it documented how “police shot live ammunition, rubber bullets, and pellets into the crowd, and fired excessive amounts of teargas into spaces between buildings where protesters were positioned.” Only one police officer was referred to trial, on charges of attempted murder. The trial is ongoing.
He became known as the “eye sniper” after a video circulating online showed him shooting at protesters and being praised by a fellow officer for getting the protester “in the eye.” “All police officers responsible for killing, blinding, injuring, and torturing protesters at Mohammad Mahmoud need to be prosecuted and punished if Egypt is serious about deterring these abusive practices,” Houry said.
“It’s equally important to carry out a fundamental reform of regulations and practices on security force use of lethal and non-lethal weapons and on how they should police demonstrations in line with human rights standards,” he said.


Turkey raises migrant pressure on EU over Syria conflict

Updated 29 February 2020

Turkey raises migrant pressure on EU over Syria conflict

  • Thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces in the Idlib region on Thursday
  • Erdogan may travel next week to Moscow for talks

PAZARKULE: Turkey vowed the Syrian regime will “pay a price” for dozens of dead Turkish soldiers and raised pressure on the EU over the conflict by threatening to let thousands of migrants enter the bloc.
Turkey and Russia, which back opposing forces in the Syria conflict, held high-level talks to try to defuse tensions that have sparked fears of a broader war and a new migration crisis for Europe.
Greek police clashed on Saturday with thousands of migrants who were already gathering on the border to try to enter Europe.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday vowed to allow refugees to travel on to Europe from Turkey which he said can no longer handle new waves of people fleeing war-torn Syria. It already hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees.
The comments were his first after Turkish 34 troops were killed since Thursday in the northern Syria province of Idlib where Moscow-backed Syrian regime forces are battling to retake the last rebel holdout area.
“What did we do yesterday (Friday)? We opened the doors,” Erdogan said in Istanbul. “We will not close those doors ...Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”
He was referring to a 2016 deal with the European Union to stop refugee flows in exchange for billions of euros in aid.
In Athens, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis held an emergency meeting to discuss tensions on the border with Turkey.
The Turkish leader said 18,000 migrants have amassed on the Turkish borders with Europe since Friday, adding that the number could reach as many as 30,000 on Saturday.
Thousands of migrants who remained stuck on the Turkish-Greek border were in skirmishes with Greek police on Saturday who fired tear gas to push them back, according to AFP photographer in the western province of Edirne.
The migrants massed at the Pazarkule border crossing responded by hurling stones at the police.
In 2015, Greece became the main EU entry point for one million migrants, most of them refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war. The pressure to cope with the influx split the European Union.
“Greece yesterday came under an organized, mass, illegal attack... a violation of our borders and endured it,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said Saturday after the emergency meeting with Mitsotakis.
“We averted more than 4,000 attempts of illegal entrance to our land borders.”
A Greek police source said security forces fired tear gas Saturday morning against migrants massing on the Turkish side because the migrants had set fires and opened holes in the border fences.
Armed policemen and soldiers are patrolling the Evros river shores — a common crossing point — and are warning with loudspeakers not to enter Greek territory.
Greek authorities were also using drones to monitor the migrants moves.
Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told Skai television the situation was under control
“I believe that the borders have been protected,” he said.
According to Hellenic Coast Guard, from early Friday to early Saturday 180 migrants reached the islands of Eastern Aegean, Lesbos and Samos in sea crossings.
The UN said nearly a million people — half of them children — have been displaced in the bitter cold by the fighting in northwest Syria since December.
Turkey said that Turkish forces destroyed a “chemical warfare facility,” just south of Aleppo, in retaliation its soldiers were killed by Syrian regime fire in Idlib.
“As of last night, we blew up a depot housing seven chemical products,” Erdogan said. “We would not want things to reach this point but as they force us to do this, they will pay a price.”
But the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on sources inside the war-torn country, said that Turkey instead hit a military airport in eastern Aleppo, where the monitoring group says there are no chemical weapons.
Thirty-three Turkish soldiers were killed in an air strike by Russian-backed Syrian regime forces in the Idlib on Thursday, the biggest Turkish military loss on the battlefield in recent years. A 34th Turkish soldier has since died.
The latest incident has raised further tensions between Ankara and Moscow, whose relationship has been tested by violations of a 2018 deal to prevent a regime offensive on Idlib.
As part of the agreement, Ankara set up 12 observation posts in the province but Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces — backed by Russian air power — have pressed on with a relentless campaign to take back the remaining chunks of the territory.
On Friday, Erdogan spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in a bid to scale down the tensions, with the Kremlin saying the two expressed “serious concern” about the situation.
Erdogan may travel next week to Moscow for talks, according to the Kremlin.
Despite being on opposite ends of the war, Turkey, which backs several rebel groups in Syria, and key regime ally Russia are trying to find a political solution.
The United States and the United Nations have called for an end to the Syrian offensive in Idlib and the deadly flare-up raising fresh concerns for civilians caught up in the escalation of the eight-year civil war.