Rabaa massacre
Photo by: 
Virginie Nguyen

Counting the dead

The casualties at Rabea, according to government sources

This week, the National Council for Human Rights will release the final report of its fact-finding committee on the dispersal of the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in that took place on August 14, 2013. The committee presented a summary of its report to the press on March 5.

The report says the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in began as a peaceful protest but was infiltrated by “armed elements,” which the committee blames for instigating the violence. But the report also places fault with the police for poor planning, not giving protesters enough time to evacuate the area and not securing a safe passage for them. It says the police force “failed to maintain restraint in some cases and to maintain proportionality in terms of the intensity of gunfire.”

According to the report, the majority of the 622 civilians who died in the three days following Rabea were “innocent citizens who happened to pass by indiscriminate gunfire by armed factions or during clashes with security.” The death toll for the period of August 14 to August 17 is at least 1,318.

The National Council for Human Rights figures are drawn from state bodies, specifically the Forensic Authority and the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Interior — which issues death certificates — does not appear to have provided figures. The NCHR’s committee did not have the authority to summon government officials or compel them to hand over documents.

The NCHR’s casualty toll does not account for bodies that may have been taken home by relatives without autopsies, or for those that were taken to private rather than public hospitals. This has likely resulted in under-counting, as a significant number of Islamist protesters may have wished to avoid public hospitals and the morgue on that day, for fear of being arrested.

The report includes 159 bodies that were counted at the Iman Mosque on August 14 by Ministry of Health inspectors. However, bodies were reportedly arriving and being taken away from the mosque all day long; it is likely that the number of the dead there fluctuated.

People tortured in or around Islamists sit-ins last summer: 11

Days the Rabea al-Adawiya sit-in lasted: 47

Time when Ministry of Interior called on protesters to leave the sit-in, promising a safe passage along Nasr Street: 7 am

Minutes police forces waited, after calling on protesters to leave the sit-in, before moving in: 25

Time when a safe passage for protesters leaving the area was secured: 3:30 pm

Number of ambulances in readiness on the day of the clashes: 400

Time when ambulances were first able to access the area: 6 pm

Number of children among the dead: 8

Source: National Council for Human Rights