Monday, November 28, 2005

The Independent Committee for Election Monitoring (ICEM) has released the following report on the last round of elections in Egypt. Amnesty International has repeatedly expressed concern about election violence preventing the full flourishing of free and independent elections in Egypt: During the previous election cycle, an Amnesty observer was among those attacked and injured at a polling site by groups believed to be allied with the security forces.


While there's always attention given to election violence, Amnesty believes that this is systemmatic of a general atmosphere of "continuing, widespread violations, including systematic use torture, deaths in custody, impunity for human rights perpetrators, and restrictions on freedom of expression and association." These human rights violations persist despite repeated calls for government action to address them made by UN human rights bodies and both national and international human rights organizations. In short, the way to freer elections in Egypt is through a general push for better human rights in Egypt, including the elimination of torture, administrative detention, unfair trials and assaults on free speech and association that continue to muzzle civil society.



Statement by the ICEM:
Heightened Levels of Violence Mars Election

Sunday, November 20, 2005 4:00 PM

Since early this morning, ICEM had been receiving reports of violent incidents throughout Egypt. Reports reveal a systematic and planned campaign of intimidation against opposition voters, in particular, Muslim Brotherhood supporters and candidates. These incidents have ranged from assault and battery to homicide. ICEM condemns in the strongest possible terms this and all types of violence. Thus far, the violent incidents have posed the greatest challenge to the fairness of the elections and have severely prevented voters from freely expressing their will. As the election process unfolds, it is becoming obvious that there is an organized campaign of violence with little or no effective police intervention or prevention. The organized campaign of violence not only provides for a truly unacceptable background for any democratic process but furthermore discredits the election outcome.

Violent Incidents

In Alexandria, there has been a string of violent occurrences today. In the Mancheya district, a demonstration by supporters of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mahmoud Atteya who were denied access to the polling station were attacked by security forces and thugs, resulting in four hospitalizations and one fatality. In Al-Montaza district, groups of thugs destroyed six cars, attacked bystanders randomly, and killed one taxi driver. Also, Saif Al-Qaberi, an NDP candidate running in the Mancheya district, was stabbed by a group of thugs. And finally, a group of Muslim Brotherhood supporters broke into the Mari Gergis Church in Al-Amareya district, setting fire to the establishment.

In the first district of Ismaelia, a demonstration by Muslim Brotherhood supporters was severely repressed by police officers who shot into the crowd. There were also thugs present who assaulted the demonstrators with knives and clubs.

In the Qaabuty district of Port Said, a group of thugs assaulted Muslim Brotherhood voters with knives in the Ahad, Tabooty and Saad Zaghloul schools. And in the first district, Ibrahim Saad, a man with history of violent crime, assaulted women and children with a knife and injured a veiled Muslim Brotherhood supporter. In the second district of the same governorate, the police withdrew all of their forces which gave thugs the opportunity to assault opposition supporters, leaving the opposition candidate Mohammed Al-Nazmy injured. There are also reports that there is a roaming group of thugs, traveling in an organized fashion from polling station to polling station, with the intention of threatening and intimidating voters. This is happening without intervention from the police.

In the Berma district of Gharbia, at Al-Tarbia Al-Fikria School, massive disputes erupted between NDP and Muslim Brotherhood supporters following the decision of the judge to expel all poll-watchers.

In Beharya, Bandar Damanhoor district, severe injuries and destruction resulted from fights that broke out among the Muslim Brotherhood supporters of Mohammed Gamal Heshmat and the supporters of the NDP candidate.

Independent Committee For

Election Monitors

ICEM

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