News of the horrific killing of Mohamed Hasan, a 12-year-old Sudanese child, by an Egyptian man on Oct. 29 in Cairo, prompted dozens of members of the Sudanese community to gather in front of Masaken Othman where the child had lived.
Another group gathered and protested in front of the UNHCR office at 6th October City, an area in the western part of Greater Cairo, which is home to a large number of refugees and migrants.
Egyptian security forces dispersed the two peaceful protests using tear gas and water cannon, and arbitrarily arrested tens of Sudanese refugees and migrants. Protesters were subjected to beatings with batons, racial and xenophobic slurs and other forms of ill-treatment.
At least 10 individuals are currently detained, and a prosecutor is expected to decide whether to release them or extend their detention today.
Amnesty International on Wednesday called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release all Sudanese refugees and migrants detained for their peaceful protests.
The international rights group also urged the Egyptian leadership to effectively investigate the beating and other ill-treatment of protesters by the country’s security forces.
“There can be no justification for the Egyptian security forces’ brutal crackdown on Sudanese refugees and migrants who took the streets to demand justice for the horrifying killing of a child,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director.
“The way the security forces are lashing out against people exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is abhorrent and must immediately end. Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights,” said Luther.
Protesters also voiced anger about violence and discrimination they have endured in Egypt, amid the state’s failure to protect them.
A video verified by Amnesty International shows police forces using a water cannon to disperse peaceful protestors in front of UNCHR, while a woman can be heard saying that the police had arrested some people.
Security forces transferred around 70 individuals, men and women, to a place they believed to be a central prison in Giza, where they were subjected to beatings and racial and xenophobic slurs, before being released the next day.
According to information gathered by Amnesty International, several of the men and women were beaten by police while in custody with plainclothes police officers threatening to imprison them.
Police interrogated them about who had funded the protests, claiming there was an organization behind it, and warned them not to challenge the “Egyptian state.”
UNCHR has thus far not commented on the use of force outside its offices or the arrests of the Sudanese nationals, including asylum seekers.
At least 49,000 Sudanese refugees are registered with the UNHCR, but this only represents a small fraction of the Sudanese population in Egypt.
Several media investigations have reported on the racism, xenophobia and violence, including sexual violence experienced by Sudanese and other refugees from Sub-Saharan African countries in Egypt, amid lack of state protection.
In 2005, Egyptian security forces killed at least 27 Sudanese protestors in front of the UNCHR building in Mohandseen in Greater Cairo, but no officials were held accountable for their killing. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)