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An Open Letter to the RCMP Commissioner About Egyptian Police

02/08/2015 10:23 EST | Updated 04/10/2015 05:59 EDT

Dear Commissioner Bob Paulson;

I am writing to you regarding the recently announced RCMP involvement in an initiative to train Egyptian security forces.

In Egypt, January 25th is "Police Day" in commemoration of the heroism of an Egyptian Police force that stood, in Ismailia in 1952, against the British occupying army. The Egyptian Police lost 50 men that day refusing to surrender the Ismailia governorate headquarters to the British force that wanted to occupy it. The Egyptian people had high regard for the Police force and the army during those days and looked up to them as protectors and a source of strength and safety.

But a lot had changed between 1952 and 2011. By 2011 the Egyptian police became a symbol of oppression and a tool used by consecutive rulers and regimes to subjugate the people rather than protect them. This is why, in 2011, the Egyptian people chose January 25th as a day to gather in Tahrir Square and call for Bread, Freedom and Social Justice; telling the police: enough is enough; we will not be silently oppressed anymore.

The endurance, strength and peacefulness of the youth, men and women on that day, and over the two weeks that followed, defeated the barbaric methods of the police and, come February 11th, the police forces had withdrawn from the streets and the Mubarak regime crumbled.

Unfortunately, the story did not end there. The loyalty of the corrupt police commanders and upper echelons remained to their defeated masters and to themselves, not to the people. Between the fall of Mubarak in February 2011 and the Coup d'Etat of July 2013 the police forces lay low and did not openly oppose the democratically elected government but neither did they do their duty in protecting the people or securing the streets and let the country fall into a disarray and a state of lawlessness. When General Sisi orchestrated the coup he did so with the full support and cooperation of the head of the police forces, minister of Interior Police General Mohamed Ibrahim, who remains in his post till this day.

Over the past 19 months the brutality of the Egyptian Police reached new highs, not even seen or heard of during the Mubarak years.

The European Parliament, the UN Secretary General, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have all condemned the Egyptian security forces for the use of force, including lethal force, leading to the death of hundreds of protesters and serious injuries of many more.

Arbitrary arrests and imprisonments of protest leaders, protesters (and even passers-by suspected of joining a protest), university students, journalists, politicians and human rights activists has become common practice by all levels of the Egyptian security forces since the 2013 Coup d'Etat. Human Rights Watch has documented numerous cases of torture, rape, and killing of Egyptian men and women while unlawfully detained by the Egyptian security forces.

The Egyptian police is committing these crimes with the full support of its political partners / masters and it is used as a tool by the current rulers to spread fear and increase their control over the population.

Under these circumstances, any cooperation between the RCMP and the Egyptian security forces will only have one effect: white washing the crimes of the Egyptian security forces and beautifying their image and the image of the Coup government. The Egyptian security forces are beyond reform until the whole political system is reformed and the current government is replaced by a democratic one which is accountable to, and believes in the rights of, its people.

Commissioner, we are calling upon you to take a principled position, consistent with Canadian values of Democracy and Human Rights, and forcefully reject any participation of the RCMP in this initiative.

Sincerely,

Ehab Lotayef

Chair of the Board of Directors

Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy

www.eccd.ca

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