National Council for Human Rights (NCHR)
To investigate the Tahrir Square violence of in June 2011.
Discussing with eyewitnesses the clashes, to determine the truth amid competing narratives about the violence.
In the report, the fact-finding committee outlined the outcome of the clashes between citizens and security forces starting on the evening of June 28 and through the morning of June 29 in downtown Cairo, including the number and types of injured persons and their injuries. The committee produced three dominant accounts of the impetus for the clashes based on an unspecified number of eyewitnesses interviewed.
- The first view of the clashes was that they occurred after the police arrested the mother of a martyr of the January 25 Revolution at a party for 20 families of martyrs at the Balloon Theater in downtown Cairo. The other families and partygoers took to the street in Tahrir Square and on Muhammad Mahmoud Street in an attempt to pressure the Ministry of Interior to release the woman. The protesters used stones and gas bottles against the security forces, while the security forces used tear-gas canisters, rubber bullets, and rocks against the protesters. This is the view the report endorses because it corresponds with most of the eyewitness interviews and is commensurate with most of the evidence.
- The second view suggests that the clashes were inspired by the June 27 order to disband the People’s Assembly, one of two houses of the Egyptian Parliament at that time. This decision caused armed thugs to go to Tahrir Square, where they created the clashes by attacking both police and protesters to escalate the situation on both sides. This view maintains that few revolutionary families were involved. Although the fact-finding committee believes that this view may help explain the “suspicious” people at the protest, it does not ultimately endorse this narrative of events. The third view theorizes that a young woman was walking with a youth near Bab al-Louq in downtown Cairo when several plainclothes policemen and investigators attacked her, demanding to know her identity and the extent of her relationship with the youth. Passersby intervened in the situation and the confrontation escalated to clashes between police and protesters.
The report concludes with its endorsement of the first view and calls for further investigation given the lack of evidence about the “suspicious” people that were present at the scene. No explicit recommendations are made beyond this.
The fact-finding committee’s willingness to present and evaluate multiple potential views surrounding the events is commendable, especially in light of the relative lack of other reporting or coverage generated elsewhere about the clashes on June 28–29, 2011 (Human Rights Watch documented police participation and a Reuters report covered the casualties). The report would have been bolstered by information about the number of eyewitness interviews and eyewitnesses’ affiliations. Additionally, the fact-finding committee should have conducted site visits and interviewed security forces. Further effort could have been expended into investigating each account more comprehensively, instead of merely calling for additional investigation. The committee also failed to produce any substantive recommendations. Overall, the committee’s commitment to chronicling competing versions of events is noteworthy, but not useful in establishing an authoritative version of events.
A full text of the report is available in Arabic here.