Four days from now, the 26th of June, international day against torture, a year would have passed since Mohamed Morsi became president of Egypt, a civilian president elected after a revolution that ousted Mubarak and continued to protest and demonstrate against SCAF and its crimes until it had to hand over power to Morsi on the 30th of June 2012. It appeared as if Egypt was about to begin a new era, a transitional period, which promised to fulfill the aspirations of the revolution, foremost social justice and human dignity. We, activists against torture, felt it was an opportune time to compile the old files, all the complaints and cases that were blocked at the office of the public prosecutor, in the hope that the time has finally come to reopen them, bring perpetrators to justice and redress hundreds if not thousands of survivors, whose traumatized bodies and souls were not enough “evidence” for the legal system. Our hopes were based on a promise made by the president during his electoral campaign that he bears the responsibility for each and everyone who was killed, unjustly imprisoned and tortured. He bears that burden “around his neck” he said.
Then the first 100 days passed, and then the first 6 months and now the first year and we have come to realize that the promise was not made to those who were detained, oppressed and tortured, but rather to his statesmen, from the police and the army. It seemed as if he was avenging them from the revolution that revolted against their brutality and human rights violations. Then followed all the court acquittals for officers accused of killing protesters. Then the reconciliation with Mubarak’s clique of powerful and corrupt public figures in exchange for money, while activists remain months in prison for alleged charges that haunt them even after their release.
State maintaining the same methods of kidnapping, detention, breaking into homes, taking hostage sand torture
And instead of bringing to justice members of SCAF who oversaw the torture of protesters in the Egyptian museum and military prisons, the president decides to award them the highest state echelon to honor them for their efforts in support of the revolution.
And instead of purging and reforming the ministry of interior the security system remains the same, changing the name of its most brutal department, the state security department into “national security department” while maintaining the same methods of kidnapping, detention, breaking into homes, taking hostage sand torture.
And instead of holding accountable those who committed previous crimes of torture, we witness an expansion of its practice and an overt use of police arms against citizens on the streets, leaving dozens dead and hundreds injured.
And while the president continues to address people with speeches of “love”, morality, compassion etc. we increasingly hear and receive cases of sexual torture and harassment in police stations, prisons, and on the streets, targeting men and women alike, young and old, as if the opposition to this regime does not qualify for this alleged “morality”.
If we recall that this revolution was primarily triggered by anger at police brutality and torturers, we could justly claim that torture not only continues as before the revolution but has become worse, with sexual torture becoming one of its ugliest and most prominent elements.
Four days from now, a year would have passed since Morsi became president. 365 days that have witnessed hundreds of demonstrations and protests reminding the elected president of his promises, only to be met with tear gas, cartouche, bullets, prison and torture. 365 days during which those organizations have documented more than 300 cases of torture, not inclusive of organized state violence; around 157 cases of murder and suspected murder in demonstrations, police stations and prisons; hundreds of detainees among them at least 300 children, in addition to those whose names never reached the media or the organizations. Nor do those numbers include the names of more than 60 unidentified bodies delivered by police stations to the morgue and later ordered buried by the prosecution, while nobody knows how they died and while families continue to search for the missing loved ones.
157 cases of murder in protests and police stations, hundreds of detainees among them at least 300 children
After the end of Mubarak’s and SCAF’s rule we had hoped to celebrate some victories in combating torture or some legislative amendments, which do justice to victims and deprive torturers of their impunity or even a beginning of a restructuring and reform of the ministry of interior.. But none of this happened.
It is therefore that we stand today , Wednesday the 26th of June 2013, raising the pictures of victims and those of the alleged perpetrators.. to repeat again and again that torture crimes do not expire and to renew our commitment not to forget and to continue mobilizing, advocating and lobbying against torture, supporting its victims and persecuting its perpetrator, supported by the victims, their families, activists and the legitimacy of the revolution until our country is free of torture and torturers.
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture
Photo by: Hossam El-Hamalawy