On the eve of the third anniversary of what is widely known as the Rabaa massacre, Egyptians living in South Africa say they feel disillusioned with the state of their home country. On Saturday evening, a number of Egyptian and local activists will commemorate the events on 14 August 2013, by speaking out against the dangers of coup-d’etats in the pursuit of freedom and democracy.
Following the Egyptian revolution of January 2011, the Rabaa massacre is seen a turning point in the post-coup unrest. On August 14th 2013, Egyptian security forces raided two camps of protesters in Cairo: one at al-Nahda Square and a larger one at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. The two sites had been occupied by supporters of ousted democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi, who had been removed from office by the military a month earlier, following mass street-protests against him. Thousands of protestors were killed, although there is still not an exact figure.
While the Muslim Brotherhood claimed 2,600 people died, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the death toll was probably 1000. HRW described the crackdown as “one of the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history”.
Since then, the Muslim Brotherhood has been banned as a “terrorist organisation”. Morsi has been imprisoned since 2013 and in June 2016, an Egyptian court sentenced him to life in prison for passing state secrets to Qatar.
Adil Abdullah from the Egyptian Community of South Africa (ECOSA), the organisers of the event, said Egyptian expats are saddened by the state of events back home.
“It is part of on-going awareness to inform the South African community of what’s been happening since the military coup in Egypt in 2013,” said Abdullah.
“The situation in Egypt is no secret. The generals of Egypt have taken power by force and too many people have been detained, injured or killed in Egypt. There is no respect for human rights.”
The programme is also aimed at reflecting on the political instability in the broader Middle East region, as a result of the popular uprisings and coup attempts over the past few years. Most recently, the failed military coup in Turkey has had far-ranging implications for Turkey’s foreign relations and regional role. As in the case of Turkey, there is distrust in the government, the military, police and intelligence services.
“We want to make the community aware of the dangers of coups, particularly the force of rule. We need to reach the broader public as this is not only an Egyptian issue, but a general issue that concerns every man and woman. It’s about justice and to speak the truth.”
Amongst the speakers include MJC president Shaykh Irfaan Abrahams, ANC Youth League Western Cape chairperson Khalid Sayed, Prof Shamiel Jeppie from UCT, Ahmed Sheta from the Egyptioan community and Mohamed Sheikh from the MSA Cape. A planned talk by former US ambassador Ebrahim Rasool was cancelled, due to other commitments.
The event gets underway after Maghrib at the International College of South Africa (IPSA) in Rylands Estate.
The awareness programme follows a protest at the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon. VOC