Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Saturday called on Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest, one day after rare demonstrations erupted against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in central Cairo and several cities on Friday against al-Sisi, a former army general who came in power in 2014 after ousting democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi a year earlier.
The protests came in response to calls for al-Sisi to step down by Mohamed Ali, a former army contractor, who accused al-Sisi and the military of corruption.
Local media said dozens of demonstrators were rounded up by Egyptian security forces during a protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday.
“President al-Sisi’s security agencies have time and again used brutal force to crush peaceful protests,” said Michael Page, Middle East and North Africa deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should recognize that the world is watching and take all necessary steps to avoid a repetition of past atrocities.”
The New York-based rights group went on to call on the Egyptian president to “direct the state security forces to abide by international standards for law enforcement during demonstrations”.
Since Morsi’s overthrow, the Egyptian authorities launched a relentless crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds and arresting thousands.