National Council for Human Rights (NCHR)
Investigate the claims about the attack and arson of the security directorate in Suez in July 2011.
Discussing the events with witnesses to determine what transpired.
Ahmed Gamil, Ahmed Abdullah Khalil, and Karim Shalaby.
The fact-finding committee produced a 10-page report on the attack on the security directorate in Suez on July 7, 2011. The report comprised background on the case, interviews with six people (two of whom are specified as eyewitnesses), a comparison of the similarities and differences between witness statements, and recommendations.
- The background section recounts how, after an appeal against the release of police officers accused of killing citizens during the January 25 Revolution was rejected, the citizen’s families attacked the security directorate with stones and broke the windows. The officers reacted by deploying soldiers and armored vehicles to protect the buildings in case the clashes escalated.
- The interviews with witnesses state the name and relation of the witness to the events, though only two are specifically described as eyewitnesses. The statements given by each witness differ in length and style, but generally agree on the following outline of events.
- The interviews explain that the families spontaneously gathered to protest the release of the police officers and began to chant against the Ministry of Interior and the police. The police inside the building responded by taunting the protesters, which prompted the protesters to begin throwing stones at the building. The police inside responded by throwing water, beer, and alcohol bottles at the crowd from the upper floors of the building. People on the street burned several cars belonging to the police station and individual officers.
- The incident lasted from 1:00 pm on July 7, 2011, to midnight. The fact-finding committee explained that the accounts of the witnesses differed in two important ways: first, whether there were “thugs”—i.e., paid agitators—present in the crowd, and second, how and when the police inside escaped the directorate. It does not endorse a particular view on either of these two discrepancies.
The report ends with four recommendations:
- quickly resuming court proceedings against those who killed protesters in the January 25 Revolution;
- quickly taking action to compensate the families of those killed or wounded;
- developing a plan to solve the grievances of Suez residents until they feel that they have received justice; and
- beginning proceedings to investigate those responsible for corruption in the Suez governorate.
The fact-finding committee’s report is commendable in its effort to investigate the events. Many other NCHR reports only present witness interviews and leave the reader to assess their veracity on their own, but this committee analyzed the witness statements for contradictions. The report would have been stronger, however, if the committee had endorsed a view on these contradictions. The report’s tone seems to suggest that police were at fault for responding to the protesters with taunts, but this does not make its way into the report’s final recommendations. While the recommendations at the end of the report are a bit vague—for example, the report calls for investigating corruption in the Suez province and continuing the prosecution of responsible parties—they are an improvement on earlier NCHR reports in that they demonstrate a willingness to look at specific local-level grievances. Overall, the report’s coverage is comprehensive and competent, but its recommendations are not as specific as they could be. Media coverage of the event indicates that witness accounts conformed to the narrative provided by the report, though the coverage does not mention the “thugs” in the crowd.
A full text of the report is available in Arabic here.