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The Massacre at the Presidential Guards Club on 5 and 8 July 2013: The first comprehensive academic documentation


This 400-page book is a summary of a carefully documented encyclopaedic work of nearly 5,000 pages, which focuses on the first massacre that took place in Egypt after the military coup of 3 July 2013. The massacre in question is known as ‘the Massacre at the Presidential Guards Club’ which claimed the lives of 140 victims and left 811 people wounded. Around 652 peaceful demonstrators picketing the Presidential Guards Club were rounded up as political prisoners. These events took place on 5 and 8 July 2013.

The book gives us a descriptive account of the encyclopaedic work, highlighting the methodology and procedure of documentation, as well as the contents of its different chapters, starting with a historical account, and devoting chapters to victims, wounded, medical reports of injuries, prisoners, witnesses’ testimonies, other documents, explanatory notes on photos and videos, the media, political attitudes, legal reports, legal steps taken, and other relevant works. It concludes with recommendations, appendixes and lists of sources and references.

The editors opted for a simple descriptive account of the encyclopaedia, starting with a physical description of the cover design, dedication, table of contents, terminology, etc. before tackling the contents. They include summaries for each chapter. The Book includes a number of tables, illustrative figures, plans, photos, quotations, footnotes, symbols and documents, so as to give a full picture of the event itself.

The Book gives a summary of what the encyclopaedia has to say about the parties involved in the event, i.e. the demonstrators, the security forces (army and police), the political and religious groups and the media. It also describes reactions as well as political and public attitudes to the events at the national and international levels. It adds a summary of the legal reports issued by some national and international organisations, adding introductory information about these organisations and some documentation.

The Book further adds an outline of what the Document includes, which is summarised in this book, giving this item the title: ‘The Document in Figures’.

It is an encyclopaedia of 5,000 pages, including the introduction. It defines 14 terms and descriptions, nearly 1,000 photos of the event, with a description of nearly half of these, as in the photos chapter. The rest are included in the appendixes. It includes nearly 1,100 videos with a total of more than 70 hours. The editors describe 25% of these and list them in the appendixes. The encyclopaedia provides 175 illustrative figures which include plans of the area where the event took place, photocopies of documents, 35 tables with clear percentages, lists of the victims, injured and arrested people. The encyclopaedia lists more than 140 victims in a consolidated document based on 42 supporting documents. It provides a summary account of everyone of those who lost their lives in this massacre, which takes 200 pages. Another consolidated list gives the names of more than 800 persons who suffered various wounds and injuries, based on 62 supporting documents. It also lists the names of nearly 652 people who were arrested. The encyclopaedia lists 57 works of art and literature inspired by the event. Some of these are of professional quality and others are self-expressions.

The documentary encyclopaedia describes at the end a number of artistic and creative public activities that document the massacre. They are classified under various methods of expression. It concludes with a number of recommendations and adds appendixes and a bibliography.

The Book is meant to be an introduction to the encyclopaedia and a summarised version of it. It is not a critical or analytical study of it; rather, it is a study aid pointing to its contents. This is due to the fact that this summarised version has been prepared, at the request of the Waey Foundation, by the same team of researchers who collated and classified the documents included in the encyclopaedia. Moreover, the encyclopaedia has not been released to the public yet. Therefore, a summary of it will serve as an introduction that will encourage undertaking critical, analytical and historical studies of the encyclopaedia, once it is released.

It is certainly useful to cast a brief look at the various chapters and main themes of this work, its methodology and contents.


A glance at this work will show that it follows clear methodology in documentation, presentation, analysis and description. The authors give a brief account of their methodology at the outset. It follows a method that is best suited to current events and has been promoted by a number of contemporary researchers. The Waey Foundation has approved it as a suitable method for documenting this event. One of its main features is that it relies on a team of researchers with different specialisations. The introduction explains all the procedures and practical steps of collation, verification, documentation that led to narration, description and writing. The methodological order has led to the arrangement of the book into an introduction, fifteen chapters discussing around seventy themes and a conclusion. In addition the Book includes 175 figures and illustrative pictures, complemented by an index that incorporates 35 tables, introducing the encyclopaedia, as well as a table of contents that combines text and digital arrangement.

A bird’s eye view of this encyclopaedic work shows the complementarity of its chapters with each chapter leading to the next. Similarly, the themes tackled in each chapter form a naturally progressive sequence. Thus, the first chapter provides a long methodological introduction to the encyclopaedia, as well as a guide for the reader of this Book. Chapters 2-6 fall within a complete framework, showing the demonstration, narrating the event, reporting what happened to the demonstrators including the dead and wounded victims and those who were arrested. In addition they provide the complete medical report of the massacre, which sums up all this.

Likewise, chapters 7-10 are a complete set of information that incorporates a variety of documentary evidence, such as witness statements, material evidence as well as visual and audio evidence, such as photos and videos. The chapters 11-15 look at the consequences and aftermath of the event, reporting attitudes, media treatment of the event, political and legal consequences and the effects on the people at large.

The Contents

The first chapter includes several topics outlining the methodology, concepts and terminology referred to earlier, and a description of form and content. The authors treat this as a separate chapter in the Book summarising the encyclopaedia, while in the encyclopaedia itself, it forms an introduction that provides a manual for using the encyclopaedia and a format for the documentation of any similar events in future.

The second chapter is entitled, ‘Description of the event as it unfolded’. It includes several themes. The first is relating the events culminating in the first massacre at the Presidential Guards Club on 5 July 2013, which is termed in the encyclopaedia as the ‘First Massacre at the Guards’. The second theme relates the events culminating in the massacre that took place on 8 July 2013, known as the ‘Second Massacre at the Guards’. Other themes in this chapter relate the events and the points highlighted by the researchers as important factors at play during the events. The chapter concludes with a detailed timeline as recorded by one of the field researchers at the time of the massacre. The Foundation was able to obtain a copy of this record.

In the third chapter the Book presents what the encyclopaedia includes of information about the victims. It gives useful summaries that come under seven main themes. One of these discusses the problem of identifying the victims by the different parties, including the numbers given by the government and its agencies, and those given by different national and internationalcivil society organisations. The researchers were able to consolidate all the relevant information, producing a comprehensive and unified list that incorporates the information given in 42 different lists prepared by different parties. The list includes a total number of over 140 persons killed. The researchers describe every supporting list they referred to in producing their consolidated list of victims, verifying each list and looking at its sources. This has been a painstaking and pioneering effort to provide a comprehensive list of all victims. The comprehensive list includes 24 fields for each victim, but the Book focuses on those of special interest to the readers, such as the name, age, occupation and place of residence of each victim. It follows this with a general reading of the consolidated list to identify its human, social, geographical and political significance. This chapter concludes with a theme that gives personal information about the victims and how they are presented in the encyclopaedia. The Book chooses nine examples of victims, giving one page or one and a half pages of information about each victim: their lives and how they met their deaths. It also includes photographs of some of them.

The next chapter is devoted to those who were injured and wounded in the event. It follows the same method as chapter 3, establishing the number of these victims, verifying their names and the hospitals they were treated at, as well as their respective injuries. It provides a descriptive study of the 62 support lists that were examined, identifying their sources and contents. The work results in a full, consolidated and unified list, followed by an analysis of its contents, significance, description of its various fields, the date of each injury, its type and the personal information of each victim, their ages, occupations and places of residence.

The Book devotes chapter five to the study of shots and injuries, providing statistics and analysis. This is the sum of the information provided in the relevant fields in the two consolidated lists provided in the previous two chapters. This is a qualitative study undertaken with the participation of a number of specialised doctors along with the academic researchers preparing the encyclopaedia. Thus, the information included in this chapter are based on objective reports based on official correspondence between the Waey Foundation, the researchers preparing the encyclopaedia and the medical doctors who studied and classified these cases. A reading of this report reveals that the editors were keen to use the professional and specialised scientific terminology, and also make them accessible and easy-to-understand by lay readers. Thus, the medical report begins with a brief introduction that helps to understand its contents. The relevant information has been collected on the basis of studying the shots and injuries suffered by each victim, and every interim medical report issued by all government and private hospital, as well as other documents. The cases studied for the report totalled 800, including those of 140 victims. The information is then entered in detailed sections. The report is made in three sections that incorporate eight main themes with other secondary themes. The first section analyses the shots sustained by those who were killed, while the second section analyses the cases of surviving people who were wounded or received injuries. The third section tackles the detailed medical aspects of the sum of these cases. In each section, the report mentions the extent of the injury and its causes, comparing this to the number of killed and injured victims. It studies the relation between the type of weapon and the extent of the injury as well as cases of multiple injuries. It then provides statistical conclusions of each section. It follows this with outlining significant findings in both areas, raising very significant questions concerning such matters as the proper reception of the victims, the use of excessive force, accuracy of laser targeting, beating up of victims, and whether genocide was intended or not.

Chapter six concentrates on the people arrested by the security forces, when the demonstration was forcibly dispersed. It thus ties up with chapters three and four in discussing the fate of the demonstrators outside the Presidential Guards Club. It follows the same methodology, providing the names and numbers of those who were arrested, the prisons they were sent to, and the police stations where they were kept in the early period of their detention. Such information is based on the official lists and police records. It also documents the type of treatment to which they were subjected, the charges against them and the sentences they received and the violations of their rights. The chapter documents the cases of all those arrested after the massacre, on the basis of the official lists, the lists prepared by civil rights organisations, as well as statements by the Egyptian official authorities. The chapter further gives a summary of the consolidated list of the names of the arrested people, in alphabetical order, and the results of the cases justifying their detention. The chapter includes several themes covering the arrests and how they were made. It records the case of one who has been missing ever since his arrest. The chapter concludes with outlining the significant differences of arrests after the revolution of 25 January 2011 and those after the massacre of the Presidential Guards Club.

The seventh chapter is devoted to testimonies. It presents different types of these and accounts by eye witnesses. It shows the sources of these and the different degrees of their accuracy. It gives the testimonies available in published sources, such as the investigations carried out by respectable international, civil society and human rights organisations. The chapter gives an account of the types of testimonies and their classifications, and it analyses their contents. The editors of the encyclopaedia use these testimonies in their account of the event.

Chapter eight gives a similar presentation of different types of material documents, their classification, analysis and use in the documentation of the event. It provides an accurate narrative of what happened based on tangible and proven material evidence.

Chapters nine and ten are devoted to documentation with photos and videos taken by the demonstrators, amateurs, journalists, as well as national and international correspondents of hundreds of media and news agencies. In these two chapters the encyclopaedia presents more than one thousand photos and a thousand videos. It gives a suitable introduction of each type and defines proper frameworks to using these. It sought help by some eye witnesses who were present at the time of the massacre, to describe the time and circumstances in which the photos and videos were taken, and to explain some cases and circumstances. We can thus say that the photos have been properly studied and more than 70 hours of video recordings taken from different angles have been shown, to follow the sequence of events at the time of the demonstration. The testimonies of the witnesses have been verified and the contents of photos and videos have been analysed and simplified for easy usage, so as to understand what they tell us of the developments at the time of the event. The photos have been arranged according to their sources, and classified according to their time and subject matter. Examples of these have been analysed so that they may be used as important pieces of evidence.

In both chapters, the editors follow the same method of identifying their sources and giving samples of study and analysis, as well as different types of photos and videos. They use these in their narration of the event.

In chapter twelve, the encyclopaedia deals with attitudes of politicians and ordinary people, in Egypt and abroad, towards the massacre. The document looks at three different areas: the first groups together the forces that supported the events of 30 June 2013 and the coup of 3 July 2013; the second includes the groups supporting the legitimate government; while the third groups together trade unions, people’s organisations and public figures. The document tries to distinguish the different attitudes within the groups that form each of these three alliances. This is followed by a presentation of different international attitudes.

Chapters thirteen and fourteen are devoted to two main areas. The first is the collation, verification and summarisation of legal groups and organisation before presenting a comprehensive review of these, pointing out areas of agreement and disagreement in their readings of the events. The conclusions made in these reports are considered with a focus on how to deal with these objectively in a total approach to the event and the angles from which these groups and organisations looked at it. The second area considers the most important national and international legal steps taken in connection with the massacre.

Chapter fifteen, which is the final chapter, looks at the works of art and other innovative works that accompanied the event or expressed it shortly after the massacre or on its anniversaries. Up to the completion of the encyclopaedia in June 2018, there were more than fifty such works, including videos, songs, news programmes that combine reporting, artistic approach and digital memory, as well as trailers. The documentation here is descriptive, without any attempt at evaluation. The aim in this respect is to document people’s reaction to the event.

The conclusion presents a number of general and detailed findings under each chapter. The editors add a number of recommendations on how to use this document in writing the history of the Egyptian revolution and the methodology to be adopted in writing this history. The recommendations also highlight the risks that threaten the history of the revolution. They also address the ways and means of using all legitimate channels to protect people’s rights and to ensure that the relevant facts remain undistorted.

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