April 6 member alleges torture by Egypt police

Ahram Online, Wednesday 8 Jun 2011

Activists are outraged by violent police interrogation of April 6 member and demand a true end to renewed human rights violations

6 April

News has been spreading on social media networks concerning the detention and torture of 18-year-old, April 6 activist Salma El-Sawy.

Reports are that El-Sawy was stopped and detained by National Security as she was leaving an anti-torture demonstration in front of the ministry of interior on Monday.

El-Sawy wrote in a blog post that she was stopped by a military officer on her way home in 6 October. The officer asked her for her ID which was not on her, she wrote, continuing that he then referred her to a police officer. The police officer, according to El-Sawy, put her in a police car. Blindfolded, she could not identify where she was being transported, but found herself with another officer who started aninterrogation. The officer, according to El-Sawy, asked her about her role in the movement and that of other activists.  

El-Sawy said she was asked about several activists and her connections to them, some she knew and some she did not. She was asked about Ahmed Maher, April 6 Youth Movement spokesperson, Mohamed Adel, Ahmed Doma, Zaied and Asmaa Mahfouz. El-Sawy said that she was also asked about several Muslim Brotherhood activists, as many of El-Sawy’s family are MB members.

When El-sawy told the officer that Asmaa Mahfouz was travelling, he asked whether Mahfouz was travelling to collect funds to topple the ruling military council. When El-Sawy answered that Mahfouz would not do that, the officer lost his temper and started beating her, saying that the military council or anyone that comes after will not do them good. According to El-Sawy’s story the officer told her, “The least sentence now will be three years to five years in prison even if it is for breaking a traffic light. We will punish anyone who says something wrong and we will set up even those who do not do any wrong and punish them as well.” He then attacked El-Sawy's head with a stick and she fainted.  

Upon her release shortly thereafter, El-Sawy realized the building she was leaving was the dismantled state security headquarters in 6 October. She added that since she was blindfolded she could not confirm whether the officer interrogating her was the same one who had first detained her.

El-Sawy wrote on her facebook that she calls on all opposition groups to unite again, as the splits created have left them weak. She added that she will be meeting with interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf on Wednesday.

El-Sawy dismissed the rumors that she'd denied being arrested.

The Khaled Said facebook page demanded a quick investigation into the incident.

Activists have been widely discussing El-Sawy's detention online, insisting that the ministry of interior put a complete end to police violence rather than waiting for each new case to be reported and investigated separately.

Omar, a member of the April 6 movement, said “My dignity is a red line. Prosecution can issue an arrest warrant for the general prosecution to investigate with us. But for us to be dealt with in this demeaning way is unacceptable, it means that the revolution has changed nothing.” 

The ministry of interior had claimed that the National Security Agency, which replaced the dismantled State Security, known for its long history of rights violations, implied it would make some concrete changes. The ministry of interior claimed that the officers transferred from State Security to the new agency were cleared of any human rights violations during their work under the previous regime and that only younger officers not involved in torture were the ones selected.

However, reports continue of several torture cases, including that of El-Sawy's, since the State Security Agency has been repleaced by, or renamed as the National Security Agency.

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