Egypt offers safe passage to Mursi supporters

Updated 12 August 2013
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Egypt offers safe passage to Mursi supporters

CAIRO: Egypt’s interior ministry on Thursday promised Muhammad Mursi’s supporters “safe exit” if they quickly leave their Cairo protest camps, as police prepared to disperse them amid international appeals for restraint.
The call to disperse, which came after police commanders discussed how to carry out orders from the military-installed interim government to end the protests, was immediately rejected by the demonstrators.
Diplomatic efforts to avoid further bloodshed picked up pace, with EU Middle East envoy Bernardino Leon and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle both arriving in Cairo to urge the rival camps to find common ground.
An interior ministry statement called “on those in Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda squares to let reason and the national interest prevail, and to quicky leave.”
The ministry “pledges a safe exit and full protection to whoever responds to this appeal,” the statement added.
But Allaa Mostafa, a spokeswoman for the Anti Coup Alliance organizing demonstrations demanding the reinstatement of the deposed Islamist president, told AFP “we are going to continue our peaceful sit-ins and our peaceful protests.”
Ministers had ordered police to end sit-ins and marches by Mursi’s Islamist supporters, saying they amounted to a “national security threat.”
The orders raised fears of new violence, less than a week after 82 people were killed in clashes at a pro-Mursi rally in Cairo.
The international community, which has expressed mounting concern over the violence since Mursi’s July 3 ouster, warned against further bloodshed.
The German foreign minister, who arrived in Cairo on Wednesday, urged both sides to remain peaceful and seek an inclusive solution.
“I am here to encourage all political forces to engage in dialogue,” he said at a press conference on Thursday with his Egyptian counterpart, Nabil Fahmy.
Later, he was scheduled to meet interim president Adly Mansour and representatives of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and other political parties.
EU envoy Leon also landed in Cairo on Wednesday, to follow up on three days of intensive diplomacy by the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton.
The US State Department called on the interim authorities to “respect the right of peaceful assemblies.”
“That obviously includes sit-ins,” spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague called for “an urgent end to the current bloodshed” and the release of Mursi, in a phone call to interim vice president Mohamed ElBaradei, the Foreign Office said.
And Amnesty International condemned the cabinet order as a “recipe for further bloodshed.”
In Rabaa Al-Adawiya, the mood was calm after the cabinet’s announcement. Thousands of protesters have been camped out in a tent city at the square.
The interior ministry had already warned that the demonstrations would be dispersed “soon,” but without saying when or how.
Foreign trade minister Munir Fakhry Abdel Nur said Wednesday’s statement did not “give room for interpretation.”
Accusing Mursi supporters of bearing arms, he told AFP: “It is clear the interior ministry has been given the green light to take the necessary measures within legal bounds.”
The interim government also faces an increase in militant attacks in the restive Sinai peninsula, where gunmen on Thursday shot dead a policeman in the northern town of El-Arish, security officials said.
Much of the Egyptian media expressed support for the government’s decision, with some saying the interim administration had received “the people’s mandate” in demonstrations last Friday backing Mursi’s overthrow.
More than 250 people have been killed since the army ousted him following nationwide protests against his single year in power.
Further raising tensions on Wednesday, judicial sources said several top Brotherhood leaders would be referred to trial for incitement to murder.
Supreme guide Mohamed Badie, who is in hiding, and his jailed deputies Khairat Al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumi, stand accused of inciting the killing of demonstrators outside Brotherhood headquarters on the night of June 30.
Mursi himself has been formally remanded in custody on suspicion of offenses when he broke out of prison during the 2011 revolt that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
He was detained hours after the coup and is being held at an undisclosed location, where the EU foreign policy chief met him on Tuesday, later telling reporters he was “well.”


Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

Updated 9 min 32 sec ago

Migrant killed during Libya disembarkation: UN

  • ‘This was tragedy waiting to happen’: International Organization for Migrationspokesman Leonard Doyle
  • IOM demands ‘immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants’

GENEVA: A Sudanese man was shot and killed Thursday as he and other migrants returned to shore by the Libyan Coast Guard tried to resist being sent back to detention, the UN said.
The International Organization for Migration strongly condemned the incident and demanded that Libyan authorities investigate and bring those responsible to justice.
“This was tragedy waiting to happen,” IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said in a statement.
“The use of live bullets against unarmed vulnerable civilians, men, women and children alike, is unacceptable under any circumstances and raises alarms over the safety of migrants and humanitarian staff,” he added.
The UN agency said its staff had been on site at the Abusitta Disembarkation point in Tripoli when as many as 103 migrants returned to shore resisted being sent back to Libyan detention centers.
When several migrants tried to run away from the guards, “armed men began shooting into the air,” and one migrant was hit by a bullet in the stomach, according to the IOM staff accounts.
“Despite immediately receiving medical aid on the spot by an IOM doctor and then being transferred to a nearby clinic, he died two hours after admission,” the agency said.
The man’s death, it said, stood as “a stark reminder of the grim conditions faced by migrants picked up by the Coast Guard after paying smugglers to take them to Europe.”
The UN and aid groups have warned that rescued migrants returned to Libya face rampant human rights abuses in both official and illegal centers in the war-ravaged country.
According to the UN, some 5,000 migrant women, children and men remain detained in inhumane conditions in Libya — more than 3,000 of them in areas of active conflict.
In June, an airstrike on the Tajoura detention center killed 53 migrants, including six children.
“That facility remains operational to this day, despite persistent calls to end the arbitrary detention of migrants,” IOM said.
“Alternatives to detention must be found,” it said, stressing that the “increasing reports of abuse and human trafficking from detention centers are truly alarming.”
IOM demanded “immediate action ... to put an end to the suffering of civilians in Libya, especially detained migrants.”