Saturday’s events in Alexandria, Egypt are a worrying development consolidating the repressive approach adopted by the Ministry of Interior in dealing with peaceful protests. The Egyptian security used excessive force against peaceful protestors and youth activists who staged peaceful protests in Alexandria demanding the Ministry of Interior to end torture and other abuses and stop covering up for criminals and using false witnesses to enforce impunity.
Security forces physically assaulted a number of activists, among them Mohammed Tarek, who was beaten and dragged to a police truck where he was blindfolded and threatened with electroshocks. His personal belongings were confiscated and ultimately he was thrown on a deserted stretch of a highway. Some 30 activists were also arrested. They were beaten and stripped of their clothes in a degrading manner. After being held for nearly 12 hours, they were left barefooted and stranded in various unknown areas without their money, phones, and identification documents.
This assault on activists coincides with the trial of the two policemen who tortured and killed Khaled Said on 7 June 2010 at the entrance of a building next to an Internet cafe that Said frequented.
The events following the incident, starting with the first demonstrations condemning Said’s murder to the many peaceful protests over the last months and during the third session of the trial of the offenders on Saturday, only indicate that the security apparatus is keen to send a message to Egyptian society that anyone who objects, protests, or even expresses solidarity with victims of torture and their families might suffer the same fate as Khaled Said. This was seen in the ordeal endured by these 30 young activists, one or more of whom might have died as a result of the violence they faced.
The undersigned organizations welcome the upsurge of action that has coincided with this case, and to which a large sector of the youth have contributed through peaceful actions through out the country, expressing popular rejection of torture and demanding accountability and justice. We add our voices to the youths of Egyptand others expressing solidarity with them around the world, and we reiterate that we are all Khaled Said. We will not forget crimes of torture. We do not accept it. We will not forget the names or faces of its victims, nor the names and faces of those who tortured, ordered torture, or supervised it. We will not stop demanding accountability, and we will not hesitate to express this using all peaceful means locally, regionally, and internationally until the day comes when the torture files are opened and those responsible are brought to justice.
The undersigned organizations urge the Public Prosecutor to take the necessary measures to investigate new crimes, protect witnesses from intimidation and threats, and show the Egyptian society that torture is not a crime that goes unpunished and that protesting torture is not a crime.
- El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
- Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
- Hisham Mubarak LawCenter
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights
- Egyptian Association for Community Participation
- Land Center for Human Rights
- Habi Center for Environmental Rights
- Center for Alternative Development Studies
- Andalus Center
- Group of Human Rights Legal Aid
- Center for Trade Union and Workers Services
- Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression