Egyptian security forces have been caught trying to loot priceless artifacts from the museum in Cairo and commit other acts of violence “in an attempt to stoke fear of instability,” a rights group claimed Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch emergency director Peter Bouckaert told The Washington Post that police identification cards were found on several wounded looters that broke in to Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.
Soon after the Egyptian police forces withdrew from the streets Friday, “people began to enter the museum,” Zahi Hawass, head of Egypt’s antiquities department, told Time Magazine.
Police identification cards were also found on other looters around Cairo and Egypt. Bouckaert implied that police forces may have been responsible for the escape of thousands of prisoners, describing it as “unexplainable.”
Over the past few days, Egyptians all around the country reported to Human Rights Watch that police were responsible for much the looting.
“The locals say the only people with weapons are police who’ve taken off their uniforms and are responsible for most of the looting and crime,” Human Rights Watch deputy director for Middle East and North Africa Division Joe Stork wrote from Suez Sunday.
“Mubarak’s mantra to his own people was that he was the guarantor of the nation’s stability,” Bouckaert said. “It would make sense that he would want to send the message that without him, there is no safety.”
“Over the past three days, state television has been reporting alarmist news about violence and criminals among the demonstrations in an attempt to discredit the democratic movement,” the Post noted.
As up to a million Egyptians marched Tuesday, ordinary citizens set up checkpoints to keep undercover police from bringing in weapons and perpetrating violence.
“We want to show the world that we can take care of our country, and we are doing it without the government or police,” Khalid Toufik, a 40-year-old dentist, told The New York Times.
This video is from Reuters, broadcast Jan. 30, 2011.