The Story of the Massacre

On 14 August 2013, Egyptian security forces backed by the Egyptian army attacked two camps of democracy supporters in Cairo: one at al-Nahda Square and a larger one at Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque. The two sites had been used for peaceful sit-ins by the protesters against the Coup d'état that ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president in the Egyptian history, who was detained on 3 July 2013 by the Egyptian military. The camps were raided after a six week sit-ins and as a result of the massacres the camps were cleared out within hours. The massacres were described by Human Rights Watch as the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.

According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, controlled by military, 638 people were killed on 14 August, with at least 3,994 injured. However, independent resources put the number of deaths from the Rabaa sit-in alone at some 2,600.

The attacks were widely denounced by world leaders, with the exception of Gulf Arab states: the U.A.E., Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, plus Jordan and Israel.

The massacres started shortly after 7:00 am, Egyptian police and army moved to disperse the camps. By 8:00 the smaller camp, near Cairo University in Giza, was cleared of protesters, but it took about 16 hours for police and army to take control of the main sit-in site near the Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque. The police in riot gear used tear gas, rubber bullets, birdshot and live ammunition to disperse the protesters while being supported by bulldozers to clear barricades and covered by armoured vehicles and snipers on rooftops. Military helicopters swooped low over the encampment and onboard snipers targeted several of the protesters.

Survivors and independent media correspondents accused police snipers of firing at Rabaa protesters from the rooftop of surrounding buildings, and survivors also testified that snipers fired down on those trying to flee or reach safety. In the afternoon, the protesters managed to push the police back to the point where they could get into a makeshift hospital. However, shortly before dusk, soldiers and officers renewed their push, and the protestors were forced at last to flee. The government forces seized control destroying what remained of the sit-in camp setting the mosque and the makeshift hospital on fire. The hospital was full of corps and injured, but still alive, protesters.