By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Thousands of Egyptians marched through Egypt’s capital Cairo Tuesday, October 9, marking the year anniversary of a military crackdown on Christian protesters that killed 26 people.
They also demanded retribution against army leaders they hold responsible for what has been dubbed Maspero Massacre, referring to the name of the state TV building overlooking the Nile River where the violence took place.
Muslims and Christians were seen walking together, carrying flowers and photos of the dead and chanting calls for justice.
Some also called for the death penalty for Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, former head of the military-led government, though not all devoted Christians agree with the death penalty.
Earlier, on October 3, the Coptic Orthodox Church reportedly commemorated the Maspero victims during a liturgy at St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbaseya area, led by Metropolitan Pachomius of Beheira, the interim leader of the Church.
The protest last year was led by hundreds of Christians angered over a string of attacks on churches and denouncing the military — which ruled the country at the time —for failing to protect them.
Soldiers were seen attacking the crowd, with military vehicles running over some protesters, while others were killed by gunshots.
Almost all the dead were Christians.
Egypt’s military denied responsibility, however, in September 2012, three Egyptian soldiers were convicted and sentenced to between two and three years on a lesser charge of manslaughter of 14 of the 27 victims.
No action has yet been taken against senior army officials, though two dozen complaints were submitted to the Justice Minister, Christian rights activists said.
“It is unacceptable that despite indisputable video footage and eyewitness testimonies clearly attesting to the security forces turning its firepower on unarmed civilians, there has been no real accountability, said Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) rights group.
Only “three soldiers of lowly rank have received paltry sentences for the lesser crime of manslaughter of around half the victims,” he complained, adding that his group had urged Egypt to carry out a more thorough investigation.
The Maspero anniversary comes at a time of mounting anxiety in Egypt’s Coptic community.
Within the last two weeks Coptic families have been fleeing Rafah in the Sinai area following extremist threats and two shooting incidents that claimed no lives.
Also, two illiterate Coptic children under the age of ten were detained after being accused of desecrating the Koran, but were released pending a full trial.
In a statement distributed by advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Coptic Organizations UK called the case of the children as an “abuse of the role of law and a clear miscarriage of justice […]in direct violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which Egypt is signatory country.”