Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square hold aloft a cut-out of SCAF leader Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt, 18 November 2011.© Mohamed Ali Eddin/Demotix
In December, Egyptian soldiers beat protester Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman so severely that they fractured her skull. Today she is fighting for justice. She told Amnesty International, “the army should be held accountable for their actions.”
The road to justice for Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman, like thousands of others who have suffered abuses at the hands of the army, will not be easy. In June, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces dissolved Parliament and changed the Constitution to give the army new powers to arrest and detain civilians, and to remove its forces from civilian oversight. These powers are widely seen as a move to protect troops from investigation and prosecution for human rights abuses. The army has said it will exercise “self-restraint”, but has warned that the army and security forces are ready to use force again to respond to “situations of unrest”.
The Egyptian army is responsible for arbitrary arrests, torture and thousands of unfair trials of civilians by military courts. Since October 2011, army troops have also killed over 100 protesters. The army has not held a single member of its forces to account.
Egypt’s army should not police peaceful protests, and it should not have powers to arrest, detain and investigate civilians. Instead, its forces should be independently investigated for abuses so people like Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman can finally have truth, justice and reparation.
It’s time for Egypt’s army to give up its powers to police once and for all.