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Report: EU fuels killings in Egypt with arms supply

May 25, 2016

Almost half of EU countries - including Germany - has contributed to Egypt's crackdown on dissent, Amnesty said in a report. The human rights group has called on the bloc to end arms transfers worth billions of euros.

A pro-Morsi supporter after police violently cleared a sit-in
Image: picture-alliance/Anadolu Agency/M. Elshamy

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International on Wednesday accused several EU member states of contributing to "internal repression" in Egypt through arms transfers.

"Almost half of European Union member states have flouted an EU-wide suspension on arms transfers to Egypt, risking complicity in a wave of unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and torture," Amnesty said in a statement.

Germany was named in the report as a key contributor to arms exports to Egypt. Amnesty also cited a Privacy International report that showed German companies sold sophisticated surveillance technology to Cairo.

The report cited an EU pledge to prevent arms from being transferred to Egypt after security forces opened fire on supporters of Egypt's first democratically-elected president on August 14, 2013.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 817 people were killed on that day, although the figure is "likely more than 1,000."

In July 2013, former military general President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led a military coup backed py popular protests against then-President Mohamed Morsi, a leader in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood organization.

"Almost three years on from the mass killings that led the EU to call on its member states to halt arms transfers to Egypt, the human rights situation has actually deteriorated," said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim deputy director for Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa program.

Embargo arms transfers

In 2014, EU states authorized 290 licenses for military equipment, amounting to over 6 billion euros ($6.7 billion) for items including military helicopters, heavy weapons and surveillance technology, said the report.

Bulgaria issued 59 licenses for military equipment for more than 51 million euros, including small arms and ammunition amounting to 11 million euros. Bulgaria's arms exports to Egypt included "10,500 assault rifles, 300 light machine guns and 21 sub-machine guns," Amnesty reported.

"The EU should immediately impose an embargo on all transfers of the types of arms and equipment being used by Egypt to commit serious human rights violations. The EU and its members must stop rewarding bad behavior by Egypt's police and military with a bonanza of arms supplies," said Brian Wood, Amnesty's head of arms control and humans rights.

Sameh Shoukry on Conflict Zone

ls/kms (AFP, AP)