Rights Organizations Condemn the Forced Eviction of Dozens of Families from their Homes in el-Marg and Tearing Down their Huts
The undersigned organizations condemn the forced eviction and removal of huts used by dozens of families in Ezbat al-Nakhl by the security forces of Cairo Governorate this morning (26 February 2014). The organizations also condemn the excessive violence used against women and children. This happened on the first day of the new government headed by engineer Ibrahim Mahlab, who had previously stated that social justice will form the basis and the vision of his government.
According to eyewitness Metwalli Hassan: “At around seven thirty in the morning, the police fired tear gas at the families staying in the place. A sniper was spotted over the bridge, firing bullets in the air. The policemen attacked and started hitting the people living in the huts with the butts of their guns. They hit them on the head, men and women, leading to several injuries.” Five women were transferred to the hospital with various wounds, including one in the head. A young girl suffered from suffocation due to teargas and was taken to al-Youm al-Wahed in al-Marg.
The police also detained several men. According to the testimony of two women living in the huts, Umm Ashraf and Umm Ayman: “The police came in and fired teargas bombs. They kicked the residents from the huts area and we are now surrounded. They also arrested 3 people.”
According to the testimony of Ali Abdul Wahab, who was detained and later released: “We were arrested for defending the women who were being attacked in the huts. They detained us in the Central Security Forces vehicle and released us after a short while.” Saoudi Eid remains detained in al-Matariya police station, up to the issuing of this statement.
The undersigned organizations note that the current situation of these families is only a result of negligence by Cairo Governorate. The authorities failed to conduct a fair and accurate census of the families who had been living in al-Tawfiqia neighborhood in the same area, which was removed by the Governorate last week. While some of the families were provided with alternative residence, the authorities refused to rehouse an unknown number, claiming they are not entitled.
The families have slept in the streets for almost nine nights and they had been demanding from the Governorate their right to be provided with alternative housing. The authorities had shown some signs of response on Tuesday, promising 30 families that their applications will be considered after taking copies of their papers and documents. However, the eviction and demolition, beginning on Wednesday, is a serious setback to this response, which demonstrates that the governor does not intend to provide alternative housing to the displaced families.
It should be noted that the original demolition and eviction by al-Matariya neighborhood on 18 February 2014 is intended for the construction of a bridge, as part of the al-Zakat Institution Axis traffic project. The neighborhood considers this to be one of its main achievements. The operation resulted in the forced eviction of 500 families and the destruction of their homes. Some of them were rehoused in 430 residential units belonging to the governorate in the land of the Juvenile Punitive Institution in al-Marg neighborhood. They put more than one family in some units and did not give them ownership deeds. The governorate refused to rehouse dozens of families, under the pretext of “ineligibility,” since they were not registered in the records of the census carried out by the governorate in 2012.
The undersigned organizations call on the Cairo governorate, the Informal Settlements Development Facility, and the Ministry of Local Development to put an end to the violence against the residents of al-Tawfiqiya and provide alternative housing to around 174 families, which were displaced. The organizations demand the respect of the constitution which stipulates the “prohibition of forced displacement” (Article 63), “the state’s insurance of the right to housing” (Article 78), and the state’s commitment to “the rights of citizens in a safe life and proving security and peace” (Article 59).
(in Arabic alphabetical order):
- Habitat International Coalition
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Egyptian Center for Civil and Legislative Reform
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights