Egypt has witnessed an increase in cases of torture and killings inside detention centres and prisons within one week. Shocking facts have been uncovered by lawyers and local human rights organisations.
One of the most prominent cases duly publicised by lawyers is that of detainee Abu Bakr Abdel Majeed al-Shafii, 22, a student at Zagazig Engineering University. Lawyer Abdel Aziz Yusuf recalled a court hearing during the murder case of the assassination of former Attorney General, Hisham Barakat, where he and other lawyers saw Abu Bakr in a mentally unstable condition, unable to recognise his own family members.
Abdel Aziz said the following on Facebook: “When the lawyers entered the courtroom, we were surprised to find the defendants banging on seats and the glass cage and calling out to lawyers.”
He added: “They informed us that one of the accused (Abu Bakr) is acting in a manner which suggests that he has lost his mental stability. He is removing his clothes and is undergoing bouts of laughter and weeping in quick succession without any reason. He is unable to talk to or recognise his family members.”
Adding further, he said: “The defence lawyer Faisal al-Syed Mohamed Ardah requested a forensic medical check-up of the defendant to ascertain his medical condition and a diagnosis of wounds sustained during the time he was subjected to torture, in addition to ascertaining the psychological condition of the defendant.”
Abu Bakr was subjected to enforced disappearance for a duration extending over a month. He later appeared in a confession-video that was aired by the Egyptian Interior Ministry in connection to the Public Prosecutor’s murder case. Signs of torture were clearly visible on him. He was imprisoned in the infamous Aqrab Prison and held in solitary confinement according what his family members informed lawyers.
His sister Hind al-Shafii wrote the following in a post on her Facebook account: “What did they do to you, my love? What did they do to make you not remember us, not remember your mother? What did they do to you? They imprisoned you and tortured you until you fell ill, they burned our hearts over you, may Allah burn their hearts! May Allah fight them! O Allah, cripple their hands and avenge us! Be patient, my love, be patient.”
Yasir, the detainee’s brother said: “Khalid was in the hospital for surgery. He was unable to walk without support; in fact, he was unable to move or even talk. His weight has decreased substantially and his sugar level is very low. Yesterday it was at 40!”
He said on his Facebook account: “Today they refused to check his sugar level and denied him any safety making it very hard for him. They loaded him onto a transport van which resembled a furnace in this heat. Khalid the journalist is not a criminal for him to be treated in this manner!!”
He added: “Khalid said he was continuing the strike because he wanted to get out from the graveyard-like prison he is currently in. The last thing I want to say is that Khalid may die at any time and we place the blame on the Interior Ministry and the Prison Authority for whatever problems he suffers from.”
Khalid Sahloub, 23, is a press photographer and a student in Cairo University’s faculty of media and communications. Arrested in January 2014, he was detained in the State Security building and spent four days there during which he was subjected to extreme torture according to a statement by his brother.
Khalid was sentenced to 7 years’ imprisonment in the Marriott Cell case. Khalid’s name was involved once more in the Helwan Brigades case, four days before his release, even though incidents pertaining to this case occurred eight months after he was detained!
Among the most prominent cases involving human rights advocates is that of Hisham Zohair. Hisham was born in Egypt to Syrian parents and spent all his life in Egypt. He was arrested in Agoza on April 25, and grouped along with along with the ‘Land Demonstrators’. These demonstrators were later released after posting a bail of 100,000 pounds.
According to the ‘Freedom for the Brave’ page on Facebook, Hisham had paid the bail amount but authorities decided to deport him regardless. He was transferred to Qanateer prison from where he shall be deported to Syria.
Activist Mohamed Naji posted the following on his Facebook account: “Since the day we were arrested, Hisham Zohair was with us and we knew he was Syrian. All of us said that this man will be treated badly compared to us. He personally knew that he wouldn’t be released even if he paid the fine. He told us that the State Security would catch hold of him as soon as this case was over. He asked us not to abandon him.”
He added: “What we feared would happen did happen. Hisham has not been released yet and he will be deported to Syria despite having a permanent residential permit along with his ageing father. Stand with him and talk about him. He doesn’t have anyone here except us.”
The families of three detained journalists have launched a signature campaign on Avaaz, a global campaigning and petitioning platform, to demand their release and support the recommendation of the United Nations issued in April 2016 to immediately release Samhy Mostafa, Abdullah al-Fakhrany and Mohamed al-Adly. The number of signatures has reached 473 out of the 5,000 required for the petition to become active.
The three journalists were arrested on August 25, 2013, while they were preparing a report on Mohamed Soltan’s injuries during the Rabaa Adaweya massacre. Egyptian security forces had stormed Mohamed Soltan’s home to arrest his father but instead they arrested him and the three journalists. They pressed several charges against them like spreading false news to misrepresent the state and prosecuted them in the ‘Rabaa Terror Cell’ case.
Mohamed Ali al-Shahnah, detainee in Mansoura General Prison, passed away a few days ago due to injuries sustained during the Rabaa sit-in dispersal. Immediate causes of death were medical negligence inside the prison. The prison administration was unwilling to provide appropriate medical care according to a post made by Egyptian Cooperation for Rights and Freedoms on Facebook.
Mohamed was 55 years old and a resident of Shaboul village in al-Manzilah centre of Dakhalia governorate. He was arrested on January 25, 2015, and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in the Shaboul Military case.