Tony Blair’s close ties to the Egyptian government have been called into question after some of the country’s key officials were accused of collaborating in the “widespread and systematic” killings of more than 1,000 protesters.
A year-long investigation by Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that Egyptian security forces “systematically and deliberately” killed large numbers of mainly unarmed demonstrators who had gathered in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square in Cairo last August to protest about the ousting of former president Mohamed Morsi.
The group said the massacre was as bad as Tiananmen Square and that it “likely amounted to crimes against humanity”. It called for several senior Egyptian officials to be investigated for their role in the incident – including the country’s current President, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who was defence minister at the time.
Tony Blair, who is a Middle East peace envoy, supported the coup against president Morsi and has voiced his support for the new Egyptian government. He is also acting as an informal adviser to Mr al-Sisi on economic reform.
Tony Blair: A career of controversies
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said: “It’s not the first time, and I suppose it may not be the last time, that Tony Blair has been associated with regimes that have a very poor human rights record. As a private citizen he’s entitled to do business with whatever regime he so likes, but as somebody who’s supposed to be a diplomatic envoy… what sort of message does this send out?”
HRW spoke to 122 survivors and witnesses of the Rabaa massacre to compile the report, which concluded that the Egyptian government had ordered the killings. The current administration rejected the findings, accusing the authors of being “biased and unprofessional”.
The former British prime minister has close ties to the Egyptian government (Getty)
HRW’s executive director Kenneth Roth said: “It is very short-sighted on the part of the major Western governments to believe if they just make nice with al-Sissi’s government that somehow this imagined transition to democracy which is repeatedly trumped will somehow come to pass. The message sent so far is that Egypt can get away with mass murder.”