Marking the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Egyptian El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims released a statement detailing the number of torture victims since President Mohamed Morsi’s inauguration.
The report stated that between 30 June 2012, the day Morsi was declared president, and 31 December 2012, the press documented 77 torture cases and 56 deaths connected with torture, while from January of this year until 31 May, 282 torture cases were documented, along with 161 deaths.
The El-Nadeem Centre itself received between 30 June and 31 December of last year a total of 121 torture cases.
Males ranged in age between six and 52 years old, while female cases were aged between eight and 53 years old.
Many of the cases were from Cairo and Giza, in addition to 33 people from northern Egypt, three from the Suez Canal region and two from southern Egypt, the report stated.
The torture cases took place during arrests in private homes, during arrests in the street, in police stations, in the offices of the National Security apparatus, in prisons, in Central Security Forces camps, at the presidential palace and at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam.
“Of the total number of torture cases, only six were perpetrated by citizens, while the others are either by the state or members of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood,” member of El-Nadeem Aida Seif El-Dawla told Ahram Online.
According to the report, the causes of deaths ranged from gunshots in clashes (49 in
Port Said and 10 during clashes at the presidential palace) to ambushes, illtreatment, and cases of suspected extreme torture in police stations all over Egypt, including Cairo’s Misr El-Qadima, Helwan south of the capital, Giza, Qena in northern Egypt, Sidi Gaber in Alexandria, Nabooru in Daqahliya governorate, Tahta in Sohag, Marsa Matrouh, Warraq, Wadi Natroun, and prisons in Miniya, Shebeen El-Koum, Tanta, Mansoura, and Al-Wadi Al-Gadid.
The report included detailed testimonies of victims of torture, as well as a full list of their names and ages.
One of the alleged victims reported his sexual torture at the hands of the Central Security Forces.
“[Police] came in asking me about weapons. I want the weapons that are with you. [I said] ‘I don’t have anyway, and as you know I'm not involved in anything since I got married.’ ‘No, you have weapons and when you know we're coming, you hide them with your wife.’ And then he tore my wife's gown. I couldn't bear to see that, so I hit him on his chest and swore at him,” read the victim’s statement in the report.
“The soldiers held me down and hit me in the face with their rifle butts…they took off all my clothes. Then an officer called ‘Tarek’ went into my kitchen and got a hose and a knife and cut the hose in half. The Central Security Forces held me down and laid me on my stomach; one of them sat on my arms, and the other pinned my face down. Two officers were beating me with the hose, and a curtain rod.”
“The officer said, ‘I’m going to break your dignity in front of your wife so that you can't look her in the eye anymore. I'm Mustapha El-Qady, and no one can save you from me,’ and he tried to put the rod in...I bled...but he didn't manage to put it in...I couldn’t break loose of their hold on me. The men were searching my wife, and she was screaming. The neighbours who came in got beaten.”
Testimonies listed by the El-Nadeem report also included those of victims allegedly detained by Muslim Brotherhood members during clashes between supporters and opponents of the government at the presidential palace and the Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam.
Clashes between opponents and supporters of President Morsi have taken place several times since Morsi took power. In two incidents, torture was reported, including clashes that took place at the presidential palace early December 2012 and at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in March of this year.
One of the testimonies of those detained at the Brotherhood headquarters by the president’s supporters read:
“In spite of all the torture, I was the luckiest. I was the least beaten. The rest had to stretch their legs on a chair and were beaten with a tree branch on their knees till they broke, so they won’t come near this area again, as they told them. Regarding the children, and there were many, they beat them with wooden sticks on their hands. A ten-year-old boy was beaten by one of them and when another man told him ‘enough, he will die in your hands,’ he increased the beating. It ended by whipping on the back.”
The report described torture in Egypt as a “systematic policy” that continues under the rule of President Morsi.
“Systematic torture is continuing and Morsi’s regime governs with the same policies as the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) and Mubarak’s regime before him,” the statement read.
According to the report, despite the fact that the numbers of torture cases documented are small in relation to the population, there is reason to belief the mistreatment is systematic.
“Those electronic [torture] devices, the ‘freezing’ rooms, the aroussa (a cross on which victims are hung) which returned to police stations, the whips of all sizes and forms, are not bought out of the officers' pockets but out of the interior ministry’s budget; that is, from the state budget, to which citizens contribute with taxes, fines, etc. These are the people's funds, which in a dictatorship, are used to buy tools to torture and kill those same people,” read the statement.
Moreover, the report says that the legislative authority, now in hands of the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Shura Council, reduced the definition of torture to mean torture of defendants only. That means, the report explains, that anyone subjected to torture who is not charged is not legally considered a victim of torture, irrespective of the brutality involved, or the location of the torture.
The El-Nadeem report further accuses the state of “protecting torturers” by giving the prosecutor-general authorisation to “close any file and ignore any complaint of torture under the pretext of lack of evidence.” The current prosecutor-general, Talaat Abdullah, has frequently been accused by opposition figures of being a Muslim Brotherhood loyalist.
The El-Nadeem centre, along with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) and Egyptian media collective Mosireen, also released a report on Monday condemning the continued use of sexual torture during the presidency of Mohamed Morsi.