Amnesty raps US arms sales to Egypt

Amnesty International has lashed out at the US government for selling arms to Egypt, despite the ruling Egyptian military’s using the weaponry against protesters.

The human rights group called on the United States to stop dispatching shipments of tear gas and other munitions to Egypt, DPA reported. 

“US arms shipments to Egypt’s security forces must be stopped until there is certainty that tear gas and other munitions, weaponry or other equipment aren’t linked to bloodshed on Egyptian streets,” it said. 

Amnesty added that a US shipment of munitions to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, which arrived in the North African country on November 26, included at least seven tons of ‘ammunition smoke,’ namely chemical irritants and riot control agents.

Shipping records also indicate that bullet cartridges and tear gas canisters were among the munitions sold to the Egyptian junta. 

According to the rights body, Washington had approved at least three shipments of US-made weapons to Egypt since January 2011. 

The licenses for the shipments were authorized during a period, when the Egyptian military rulers used excessive and often lethal force against protesters. 

Late in November, thousands of tear gas canisters were fired at Egyptian protesters in the downtown area in the capital Cairo as the country’s military launched a massive crackdown on demonstrators demanding that the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) hand over power to a civilian government. 
Some 40 people were killed during the clashes. 

Egyptian military forces have repeatedly cracked down on protests since the ouster of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in a popular revolution in February.