CAIRO: Egypt has categorically rejected a report issued by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) accusing Egyptian forces of having committed human rights violations against civilians in the Sinai Peninsula.
The report blamed both the security forces and Daesh militants for rights violations.
The organization accused the Egyptian army and police, between 2016 and 2018, of carrying out large-scale arrests, forced disappearances, torture and killing, in what amount to crimes against humanity.
“It is possible that the army also launched air and ground attacks that killed many civilians and used civilian property for military purposes,” HRW said.
The report was rejected by the Egyptian government, whose Information Service Authority (ISA) responded: “The organization (HRW) has consistently propagated lies and fabrications against Egypt, most recently its report on the situation in the Sinai.
“The contents of the report carried many allegations about cases in which the organization failed to provide any real evidence as if it was addressed to a naive audience to mislead them on such baseless allegations.”
The ISA also said that the report from the US-based HRW lacked internationally recognized professional standards, having conducted interviews with 54 people in Sinai without identifying them, eroding their credibility.
It added that the report did not publish pictures or statements or videos of those who interviewed outside Egypt, even in a manner similar to the mainstream news practice of altering or blurring the face and voice of the speaker.
“Some countries supporting terrorism in the region are using the organization to support their political agenda, providing political cover for terrorist organizations operating in the Middle East, especially the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Dalia Ziadeh, Analyst
Dalia Ziadeh, director of the Egyptian Center for Free Democratic Studies, said that since its inception, HRW has played a political role intervening in other countries, such as in the Cold War between the US and Soviet Union in the 1970s.
In a statement, Ziadeh explained that “some countries supporting terrorism in the region are using the organization to support their political agenda, providing political cover for terrorist organizations operating in the Middle East, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, and to help spread them in the Middle East and threaten important countries in the region, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
“The second part of the strategy is to fight these countries diplomatically by dispersing their efforts and distorting their image in front of the world’s public to destroy their economic and political interests and international relations,” she added.
Ayman Aqeel, head of the Maat organization for peace, development and human rights, told Arab News that HRW does not issue human rights reports, but publishes political manifestos. In the latest report, which attacked the Egyptian army in Sinai, he said, the aim was to pressure the US not to arm Egypt.
Hazim Mounir, head of the National Foundation for Training and Human Rights, revealed that HRW’s latest report was a compilation of old reports dating from 2016 onward, or “old tunes with new mixes.”
He added: “Most of what was mentioned in the report was answered previously. The attorney general issued a statement two years ago rebutting these lies.”