Human Rights Monitor holds the Egyptian authorities completely responsible for the deaths of 22 fans killed at the Air Force Defense Stadium on February 8, 2015.
The fans were killed when security forces barred them from entering, and suffocated when they stampeded after police used tear gas to clear the crowds trying to get into the gates to watch the match between two Cairo clubs, Zamalek and Enppi.
HRM received numerous accounts from relatives who validated that police forces used live bullets to the heads and necks which killed their sons.
HRM stresses that the continued disregard to the life of Egypt's citizens by the Egyptian authorities must not be ignored and must end. It holds the prosecuting office and the judiciary responsible for allowing criminals to get away without accountability describing them as accomplices. Furthermore it holds them responsible for fabricating charges and arresting the victims rather than trying the responsible party.
Media outlets had announced invitations to attend the match and over 10,000 Zamalek fans flocked to the stadiums premises Sunday hoping to enter through a make-shift, wire-barbed metal-fenced narrow path with barbed wire. The cage is considered the first in football's history. Thousands remained outside hoping to enter the stadium as police forces were deployed in and around the premise and entrances.
According to eye witnesses, clashes erupted between police and security forces and fans after warnings were made that force would be used to disperse any interactions or skirmishes.
At 6pm or just before, police forces used tear gas against fans that had crowded to enter the stadium causing a state of panic as they attempted to escape resulting in many injuries and a stampede. Forces however continued to use more tear gas canisters and pellets as they chased and arrested those who attempted to escape from the gas.
At 7pm just before the match commenced, the Interior Ministry issued a statement stating that huge numbers of Zamalek club fans came to Air Defense Stadium to attend the match and tried to storm the stadium gates by force, which prompted the troops to prevent them from continuing the assault as they effected the flow of traffic and spectators from attending the match. The statement defended the use of force and tear gas against fans adding that there would have been larger numbers of victims if it weren't for the forces intervention.
An official report has been released by forensics allowing that injuries to the face and chest were the result of a stampede however eye witnesses assert that the deaths took place following the excessive use of force and held the Egyptian authorities responsible for the Air Defense massacre.
The use of tear gas and bullets by police and security forces in gatherings unable to move because of crowds reveals the premeditated intention to kill. This is not the first incident where such force is used by police where victims choked to death.
The renowned case of the Abu Zaabal police van where 37 victims were killed used similar methods. Police also used tear gas which killed victims detained in the police vehicle. According to witnesses who survived the assault police personnel had threatened to kill them if they did not remain quiet.
This latest attack by police stationed to protect the match by using tear gas, live bullets and pellets resulted in the deaths of many fans is not the first of its kind. In 2012, 74 Ahly fans were also killed in what has become known as the Port Said Stadium massacre. Investigations are still underway.
The Interior Ministry and police forces continue their assaults which end the lives of innocent citizens daily in an unprecedented brutal and revengeful manner. Violence is increasing daily as new excuses are used and accusations and blame laid on the victims.
Human Rights Monitor condemns the unwarranted and extreme use of force against crowds regardless of them being protests or matches. It also denounces the complete disregard of human life in Egypt as forces continue to kill whenever they have the chance. It calls on the UN to form a fact finding committee of the crimes committed by Egypt's authorities beginning from the January 25 revolution in 2011 and offenses committed to date. It demands that all responsible be held accountable and be brought to justice.