SCAF: A brief history of injustice

Wael Eskandar, Thursday 10 Nov 2011

The military assumed power in Egypt nine months ago, after which time numerous crimes against human rights have been reported. Ahram Online outlines some cases where investigations have yielded no results

Army personnel carriers clash with protesters at Maspero on 9 October 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The head of the military judiciary announced Thursday, 13 October, that the armed forces alone would investigate what is known as the Maspero Massacre — the clashes that took place 9 October, leaving 28 people dead and at least 325 injured, when Coptic Christians marched from Shubra to Maspero to protest the burning of a church in Aswan.

The announcement came despite warnings by human rights groups that the killing by the military of Coptic protesters should not be covered up. To date, investigations have not produced results on responsibility for the events, and nor is there any reason to expect otherwise; the military has not conducted any investigations adequately since it assumed power on 11 February 2011. Most of its claims contradict video evidence and eyewitness testimonies. According to rights lawyer Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), “Military investigations are unacceptable. They are not independent and it is very clear they are biased.”

There are over a dozen major incidents that should have been properly investigated and have not been since the military took power. Many other charges of misconduct and abuses filed before and after military rule have also been largely ignored.


Essam Atta

On 27 October 2011, 24-year-old Essam Atta was allegedly tortured to death by prison guards. Despite Atta’s family alleging that a prison officer called Nour was involved in Atta’s torture, the police have not investigated these allegations and concluded that Atta died as a result of ingesting drugs. The Ministry of Interior statement and the forensic report are reminiscent of the official story on Khaled Said, who was murdered in plain view and whose autopsy report had been falsified. The case is currently being examined by the general prosecutor.


The Maspero Massacre

The Maspero Massacre took place on 9 October 2011 when Coptic Christians took to the streets joined by Egyptian Muslims to protest the destruction and burning of a church in Aswan. Tracing the march provides a body of evidence in terms of videos and eyewitness testimonies  that implicate the military in the killings of protestors.

Despite these implications, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) insisted on conducting investigations alone and ended exonerating the army. Instead of a full-fledged investigation, revolutionary activists have been summoned to appear before the military prosecution. Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah was detained by military prosecution on serious charges yet no evidence has been presented to the public. General Mohamed El-Assar claimed that army personnel were unarmed and yet one of the charges against Abdel Fattah is theft of a weapon belonging to military forces. In addition, according to Bahaa Saber, another activist who was summoned but released after questioning, the army has Mina Daniel’s name on the list of those accused. Mina Daniel was one of the activists killed on 9 October. His autopsy reports the cause of death as: “projectile entered into the upper chest, exiting the lower back”.

So far there has been no announcement of the names of officers or soldiers investigated or reprimanded, despite clear video evidence and autopsy reports indicating that 12 protesters were run over by Armoured Personnel Carriers. The incitement of violence by the media has not been investigated and no investigation of Minister of Information Osama Heikal has been announced despite charges being filed against him.


The church in El-Marinab, Aswan

The destruction and burning of Mar Girgis Church in the village of El-Marinab, Edfu, in Aswan on 30 September triggered a wave of angry protests. Despite recommendations to remove the governor of Aswan and take corrective action, nothing was done. This deliberate inaction led to the protests that ended in the Maspero Massacre.


Torture of two men by army and police

In the latter half of September 2011, a video of policemen and army personnel torturing two detainees was circulated over the Internet. The military promised a swift investigation, and swift it was. The findings were that the video was fake, and the army officers were released.


The battle of Abbasiya

On 23 July, thousands of protesters tried to march from Tahrir Square to the Ministry of Defense to decry the unmet demands of the 8 July sit-in. Attacks on the protesters resulted in the death of activist Mohamed Mohsen.

On 30 July, state owned Akhbar Al-Yom published the findings of the National Council for Human Rights’ investigation into the incident, according to which the battle of Abbasiya was planned thuggery while video evidence has been presented to the prosecutor general documenting the attacks.

General Hassan El-Reweiny was accused of incitement when he went on air with Dina Abdel Rahman on the Dream TV satellite channel before the march and claimed that protesters would be armed with Molotov cocktails. Charges have been filed against him with the general prosecutor. The case was transferred to the military prosecution office and no action taken.


Assault on martyrs’ families

On 28 June 2011, clashes broke out between protesters and the police after families of martyrs killed in the January 25 Revolution were attacked near the Balloon Theatre in Agouza. The fact finding committee suggested that the clashes were premeditated, yet no action was taken to bring about justice.

Mohamed Gad, known as “Sambo”, was sentenced to five years imprisonment despite activists insisting he did not intend to take possession of a firearm he was photographed holding and actually returned it to the Omar Makram Mosque in Tahrir Square on 29 June. Despite the use of excessive force by the police, officers have not been investigated.


Nakba Day protests

Nakba Day on 15 May witnessed protests outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo in solidarity with Palestinians. Demonstrators were dispersed using live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets leaving 350 people injured. Over 150 arrests were made. It is unclear until today why the army used excessive force.


Ramy Fakhry

Despite promises to investigate the death of Ramy Fakhry, we have yet to hear the results of the investigation. Ramy Fakhry was a 27-year-old electrical engineer who was allegedly killed by the army on his way to work on 13 May 2011. “An investigation could reveal who was present at the time of the shooting,” Eid told Ahram Online, but so far no results have been announced.


The Imbaba church attacks

7 May 2011 marked another case of sectarian violence when a church in Imbaba was attacked and set ablaze. Twelve people died in the ensuing clashes and 186 were injured.

Despite the arrest of over 190 people, results of the investigation have not been announced to the public. A large number of those arrested were released and the investigation did not include charges of hate speech. The incompetence of the military prosecution in bringing to light any investigation results casts doubt on the validity of charges against those in custody.


8 April officers

On 8 April a group of army officers joined Tahrir square protesters in solidarity with the revolution’s goals. In the early hours of 9 April the military dispersed the protesters violently. Witnesses say live ammunition was used, in addition to tasers, batons and teargas. Egyptian human rights organisations called for an immediate investigation into the excessive violence and shootings. According to Gamal Eid, an investigation was promised but no results have been announced, nor is there reason to believe an investigation did take place.


Zamalek vs Africain match

On 2 April 2011 thousands of angry Zamalek fans stormed the pitch in a match between Egypt’s Zamalek club and Tunisia’s Africain club. The military council vowed to investigate the events of the match. We have yet to hear the results of these investigations.


Torture and virginity tests

On 9 March, the sit-in at Tahrir Square was dispersed violently with reports of mass arrests and torture in the vicinity of the Egyptian Museum. Virginity tests were also carried out on female detainees as reported and documented by the El-Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence and Torture, Amnesty International, The Washington Post and CNN. The army initially denied that the tests had been carried out, and then promised to launch an investigation. Numerous calls to bring those responsible to justice have been ignored despite numerous eyewitness accounts and evidence.


The church of Atfeeh

In early March, the church in Sol, Atfeeh, in the governorate of Helwan was set ablaze and demolished as a result of sectarian tensions. There have been calls for an investigation into the events so that the perpetrators are held accountable. However, in an interview with Amr Adeeb, SCAF General Hassan El-Reweiny alluded to how preposterous it was to ask for the investigation results after the church has been rebuilt.  No one has been held to account for the attack to date.


Corruption, abuses and miscellaneous others

No justice has been realised in cases like the killing of protesters, the Battle of the Camel, the bombing of the church in Alexandria and many others. Numerous incidents and cases remain mysterious as SCAF chooses to either neglect or ignore claims.


Civilians caught in the military trials system are tried and convicted in days and sometimes hours with little to guarantee a fair trial while perpetrators of the crimes listed here have yet to be brought to justice. Many charges remain uninvestigated even after being submitted to the prosecutor general.

“Military prosecution only targets activists and the poor, as if it is a trap for revolutionaries and activists,” Eid told Ahram Online. “All investigations and trials under the army serve political ends.”





Essam Atta

27 October 2011

Maspero Massacre

9 October 2011

The church in El-Marinab

30 September 2011

Torture video of two men by army and police

28 September 2011

The battle of Abbasiya

23 July 2011

Assault on martyrs' families

28 June 2011

Nakba Day protests

15 May 2011

Ramy Fakhry

13 May 2011

Imbaba church attacks

7 May 2011

8 April officers

8/9 April 2011

Zamalek vs Africain match

2 April 2011

Torture and virginity tests

9 March 2011

The church in Atfeeh

4 March 2011

Corruption, abuses and miscellaneous others

February 2011 –  to date.



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