Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Tony Blair’s Egypt links in spotlight after scathing report on the deaths of over 1,000 supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi

Human Rights Watch said the massacre last August was as bad as Tiananmen Square and that it 'likely amounted to crimes against humanity'

Former prime minister Tony Blair
Former prime minister Tony Blair
CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: An Egyptian man works to organise the bodies of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)

Tony Blair's close ties to the Egyptian government have been called into question after some of the country's key officials were accused of collaborating in the “widespread and systematic” killings of more than 1,000 protesters.

A year-long investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that Egyptian security forces “systematically and deliberately” killed large numbers of mainly unarmed demonstrators who had gathered in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo last August to protest about the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.

The group said the massacre was as bad as Tiananmen Square and that it “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”.

It called for several senior Egyptian officials to be investigated for their role in the incident - including the country's current President, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who was defence minister at the time.

Tony Blair, who is a Middle East peace envoy, supported the coup against president Morsi and has voiced his support for the new Egyptian government. He is also acting as an informal adviser to Mr al-Sisi on economic reform.

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said: “It's not the first time, and I suppose it may not be the last time, that Tony Blair has been associated with regimes that have a very poor human rights record.

As a private citizen he's entitled to do business with whatever regime he so likes, but as somebody who's supposed to be a diplomatic envoy… what sort of message does this send out?”

HRW spoke to 122 survivors and witnesses of the Rabaa massacre to compile the report, which concluded that the Egyptian government had ordered the killings. The current administration rejected the findings, accusing the authors of being “biased and unprofessional”.

HRW's executive director Kenneth Roth said: “It is very short-sighted on the part of the major Western governments to believe if they just make nice with al-Sissi's government that somehow this imagined transition to democracy which is repeatedly trumped will somehow come to pass. The message sent so far is that Egypt can get away with mass murder.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Blair did not respond to a request for comment.

CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: An Egyptian woman cries after identifying the body of a family member, a supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.  An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
An Egyptian woman cries after identifying the body of a family member, a supporter of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt
CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi carry a coffin inside the front door of the al Amin Mosque, prior to the funeral of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: An Egyptian man works to organise the bodies of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
An Egyptian child displays empty tear gas canisters among the debris of a protest camp in Nahda Square, near Cairo University in Giza, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Egypt faced a new phase of uncertainty on Thursday after the bloodiest day since its Arab Spring began, with over 300 people reported killed and thousands injured as police smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president. Wednesday's raids touched off day-long street violence that prompted the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and curfew, and drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West, including the United States. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Egyptians walk among the burned remains of the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, in the center of the largest protest camp of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, that was cleared by security forces, in the district of Nasr city, Cairo, Egypt. The death toll keeps going up in Egypt after security forces swept through two sit-in sites yesterday, operated by supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi. An Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman now says over 400 people died in the violence that has prompted international criticism. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)
A burned army vehicle remains on a side street outside Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi had a protest camp at Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Egypt faced a new phase of uncertainty on Thursday after the bloodiest day since its Arab Spring began, with hundreds of people reported killed and thousands injured as police smashed two protest camps of supporters of the deposed Islamist president. Wednesday's raids touched off day-long street violence that prompted the military-backed interim leaders to impose a state of emergency and curfew, and drew widespread condemnation from the Muslim world and the West, including the United States. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Members of the Egyptians Army walk among the smoldering remains of the largest protest camp of supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, that was cleared by security forces, in the district of Nasr City, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. The death toll keeps going up in Egypt after security forces swept through two sit-in sites yesterday, operated by supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi. An Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman now says over 400 people died in the violence that has prompted international criticism. (AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)
CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: Egyptian men work to organise the bodies of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: An Egyptian man looks at a list of names of supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi killed during a violent crackdown by Egyptian Security Forces on pro-Morsi sit-in demonstrations the day before, at the al-Iman Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)
CAIRO, EGYPT - AUGUST 15: A young Egyptian boy collects shoes from the debris left outside the Rabaa al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City on August 15, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt. An unknown number of pro-Morsi protesters were killed in Egypt's capital yesterday as Egyptian Security Forces undertook a planned operation to clear Morsi supporters from two sit-in demonstrations in Cairo where they have camped for over one month. Egyptian Police and Army forces entered protest sites in the Nasr City and Giza districts at dawn on August 14, using tear gas, live fire and bulldozers to disperse protesters and destroy the camps. A state of emergency has been declared in Egypt that began yesterday afternoon and will last for one month. (Photo by Ed Giles/Getty Images)

Further reading

'Sack Blair' as Middle East envoy

Iraq crisis: Lying zealot Tony Blair is a fundamental danger to world peace

Assad’s enemies in Syria, whom Tony Blair’s bombing of Damascus would have helped, now threaten Iraq

Blair sparks backlash after denying invasion link to Iraq bloodshed 

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair subjected to citizen's arrest attempt

A freed Hosni Mubarak should feel at home in today’s topsy turvy Egypt 

Egypt crisis: A national tragedy plays out at Cairo’s stinking mortuary

Muslim Brotherhood set to march as Egypt death toll rises

Tributes to Sky News cameraman killed covering Egypt clashes

Blair 'unhinged' on Iraq: Johnson 

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