Two of Human Rights Watch (HRW) top staff were denied entry to Egypt at Cairo airport upon arriving on Sunday for “security reasons” after being held for 12 hours, the group’s staff said on Monday.
Executive Director Kenneth Roth and Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson were denied entry to Egypt and deported after they had flown to present a report of the dispersal of Rabaa Al Adaweya and El Nahda, which left hundreds dead a year ago.
“Rabaa massacre numbers rank with Tiananmen and Andijan but #Egypt government would not let me in to present report on it,” Roth stated on twitter.
Roth and Whitson flew to Cairo to hold a press conference on Tuesday with the results of a year-long investigation on the dispersal of the Rabaa encampment.
The press conference titled, “All According to Plan: The Rabaa Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt,” would launch the 188-page report by the HRW, including interviews with over 200 witnesses.
According to the events invitation, “the report concludes that the systematic and widespread killings likely amount to crimes against humanity.”
The report also, “documents the manner in which Egyptian police and army forces methodically opened fire on crowds of demonstrators opposed to the military’s July 3 ouster of [former president] Mohamed Morsi at six demonstrations in July and August 2013.”
Human Rights Watch is one of many human rights groups that has expressed concern over the mass killings of protestors and have criticized the government for the dispersal of Rabaa encampment, which took place weeks after the removal of the elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi from power.
“We came to Egypt to release a serious report on a serious subject that deserves serious attention from the Egyptian government,” the Executive Director said in a statement delivered by the group.
“Instead of denying the messenger entry to Egypt, the Egyptian authorities should seriously consider our conclusions and recommendations and respond with constructive action.”
The report will be released on Tuesday as scheduled.
Airport officials quoted by Reuters said that Roth and Whitson were denied entry and deported after receiving instructions from unnamed security officials.
The airport officials said that the two directors informed security authorities while getting their passports checked that they were entering Egypt to attend the one-year anniversary of the deaths of hundreds of Islamist protesters in Rabaa.