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UK 'complicit' in Egypt regime brutality against pro-democracy protesters

Sisi's regime has had £141 million worth of arms sales approved by the UK [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 September, 2019

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Sisi's regime has had £141 million worth of arms sales approved by the British government, which included assault rifles, small arms ammunition and weapon sights likely used against protesters.
The British government is complicit in human rights abuses carried out by Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s government against protesters, campaigners said on Saturday, after Egyptian forces rounded up and detained dozens of peaceful protesters. 

Friday night saw thousands of people take part in pro-democracy demonstrations across Egypt, calling on Sisi to step down over his appalling human rights records, crackdown on dissidents and the jailing thousands of Islamists as well as secular activists and popular bloggers.

Dozens of protests were arrested as military forces, including plain clothed police, dispersed the crowds using tear gas in downtown Cairo, and patrolled the side streets to stop crowds from gathering. 

"They were the first major protests since the overthrow of President Morsi in July 2013," UK-based Campaign Against Arms Trade said in a statement on Saturday. 

Since assuming power, Sisi's regime has had £141 million worth of arms sales approved by the British government, which included assault rifles, small arms ammunition, weapon sights and armoured vehicles, all of which were likely used against protesters.  

In 2011 the Egyptian authorities used UK-made tear gas against pro-democracy campaigners.

It is likely, the group says, that UK-made tear gas was used to disperse crowds in Friday's protests.

Since assuming power, demonstrations have become rare in Egypt after Sisi effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi.

"By arming and supporting the Sisi regime the UK government has made itself complicit in its abuses," Andrew Smith, spokesman for the group, told The New Arab.

"Arms sales have consequences, and one of them is that they empower the buyers and enable repression. 

"The Sisi regime has an appalling human rights record. It has widely been accused of carrying out arbitrary detentiontorture and other terrible abuses."

Egypt is included on the UK Government’s list of "core markets" for arms exports.

Last week, representatives of the Sisi regime were on the guest list for DSEI 2019 in London, one of the world’s biggest arms fairs. The invitation was sent by the UK Government.

"The UK Government has given its approval to Sisi and helped to give him a figleaf of legitimacy on the world stage," Smith told The New Arab.

"It's not just the arms sales that need to end, it's the political support that has gone with them.

"If they want to reverse the damage that has been done, then [British PM] Borid Johnson [...] must join calls for Sisi to step down," Smith said.

"It is long past time for the human rights of Egyptian people to be put ahead of arms company profits."

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