Global perspective Human stories

UN human rights arm urges Egyptian President to listen to people’s demands

President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt.
UN Photo/Marco Castro
President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt.

UN human rights arm urges Egyptian President to listen to people’s demands

The United Nations human rights office today called on President Mohamed Morsi to listen to the demands of the Egyptian people as expressed throughout mass demonstrations over the past few days in the Middle Eastern country.

“We are following with great concern the extremely tense situation in Egypt and wish to convey a strong message of solidarity and support to the Egyptian people,” the Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.

“We call on the President of Egypt to listen to the demands and wishes of the Egyptian people […] and to address key issues raised by the opposition and civil society in recent months, as well as to heed the lessons of the past in this particularly fragile situation.”

Egypt has been undergoing a democratic transition following the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak two years ago in the wake of mass protests similar to those seen in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa as part of what had been called the “Arab Spring.”

Protests have been taking place in various cities in recent days, with protesters reportedly calling for the resignation of President Mohamed Morsi. Yesterday, Egypt’s army said that the country’s rival parties have 48 hours to resolve the political crisis.

“We urge the Egyptian Government to continue to make every effort to protect the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful protests and demonstrations,” Mr. Colville said, stressing that any perpetrators of attacks against peaceful demonstrators who are found to have used excessive force should be held accountable.

“We welcome public assurances made by the law enforcement agencies and the military that no measures will be taken that could lead to excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators.”

Yesterday, the Secretary-General repeated his call for all parties to uphold the law, while respecting the right to demonstrate peacefully. In particular, he underlined that this right must be extended to female demonstrators, given the concerns over the high number of reports of sexual assaults.