Last week saw the anniversary of the most traumatic month of recent Egyptian history. The forceful dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins by Egyptian security forces, and its repercussions in terms of other types of violence led by militants and sectarian attacks, was an ordeal that Egyptian society has yet to fully grasp and come to terms with. But the month of August 2013 in Egypt was not a tribulation that can simply be dismissed, in the hopes it will be forgotten. Without investigating accountability for the events of last summer, that entire month will constantly have repercussions in Egypt’s present and future. Taking up that challenge will not only ensure more responsible attitudes in the future, it will avoid the intensification of international pressure upon Egypt in the months and years to come.
In August 2013, a slew of rights groups within Egypt and outside of it expressed grave concerns about the prospects of dispersing the sit-ins by force, worried about the likelihood of civilian fatalities. Human Rights Watch (HRW) described it as “the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.” Their assessment converged with the appraisals of many in the international community, in addition to Egyptian civil society groups.