CAIRO: Human rights activists condemned the violence used against children by the armed forces, while questioning the nature of the orders given to the soldiers as they cracked down on a Cabinet sit-in earlier this month.
Heba Abou Saeda, from the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, said the armed forces want to send a warning message to “everyone not to take part in demonstrations.”
“It is a clear indication that the armed forces have lost control,” she said.
While the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says there are mixed reports regarding the number of children injured during the clashes, it estimated that at least two children were killed and tens injured.
However, according to Abou Saeda, three children, ages 10, 12 and 15, were severely injured and hospitalized in the clashes.
“Two of these children are random vendors in the area and one of them was injured inside his school on Mohamed Mahmoud Street,” she said, adding that they have received reports from eyewitnesses about clashes taking place inside the school.
“Such disregard for children’s rights and safety must be condemned and must cease immediately,” said UNICEF Representative in Egypt, Philippe Duamelle, in a statement.
Karima El-Hifnawy, political activist and member of the National Association for Change, said, “This heightened levels of violence that was used to disperse the peaceful demonstration shows that these officers were told that those taking part in the demonstrations are enemies of the state, and the violence did not exclude anyone whether doctors, girls, boys or seniors.”
“The officers have [reportedly] received psychological training to make them hate the revolution and go out and seek revenge from the revolutionaries,” she added.
Egyptian child rights organizations report that and that 69 were put in detention in the same period, according to UNICEF’s statement.
UNICEF is calling on the Egyptian authorities, the security forces and other parties involved in demonstrations and violence in Cairo to protect children, Duamelle said in the statement.
“UNICEF urges the authorities and all other parties to respect fully the rights of children and protect them in accordance with Egyptian and international humanitarian and human rights law. They should not be victims of violence nor unnecessary witnesses to violence.”
Furthermore, UNICEF also called for prompt investigations of incidents resulting in the death or injury of children or their detention and for the provision of proper treatment and care to victims.