A ship loaded with explosives, en route from the U.S. to Egypt, has drawn contempt from human rights organizations worldwide, with Amnesty International calling on the U.S. to withhold the delivery of weapons to Egyptian military until the latter demonstrates its commitment to protecting human rights.
The cargo, nicknamed the ship of shame, is currently in the Mediterranean Sea and is due to arrive in Egypt early next week.
Amnesty conveyed its stand to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that it is opposed to any of the $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid to Egypt being used for the purchase of weapons, ammunition, military equipment and military vehicles that can be used by Egypt's government to suppress human rights.
The United States should not place more weapons in the hands of the Egyptian security forces that have shown ongoing disregard for the rights of the Egyptian people, said Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International.
It would be flat-out wrong and shameful for the United States to falsely certify that the Egyptian government is protecting human rights - and would send a dangerous signal to waive that certification requirement.
According to the Consolidated Appropriations Act made into law last December, the Secretary of State has to certify to the Congress that the Egyptian government is implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion, and due process of law before $1.3 billion in military aid can be provided to the Egyptian government under the Foreign Military Financing Program.
The law also enables the Secretary of State to waive the certification requirement on national security grounds.
In the wake of reports of human rights violations in Egypt, with the Egypt's Central Security Forces using shotguns and live ammunition, to disperse protests, killing at least 16 people and injuring hundreds of others, human rights activists think a new set of weapons will only fuel the crisis.
In the letter to Clinton about the congressional certification needed for military aid, Amnesty International urged the State Department to halt any funding already being used to provide weapons, ammunition, military equipment and military vehicles that can be used by Egypt's government to suppress human rights.