Rights group reveals mass executions in prisons during Egyptian revolution

Zeinab El-Gundy, Thursday 25 Aug 2011

At least 100 inmates were killed in Egyptian prisons during the early days of the January 25 Revolution, says human rights group

Screen shot from Martyrs behind bar documentary
Screen shot from Martyrs behind bar documentary "EIPR"

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) has released a 15-minute documentary titled “Martyrs behind Bars,” about the crimes committed by security authorities in Egyptian prisons during the early days of the January 25 Revolution.

EIPR also published a report in Arabic about human rights violations committed by security authorities against intimates in five prisons that did not witness mass breakouts like other prisons in the country. These include Tora Prison in Cairo, El-Katta Prison in Giza, Shabeen El-Kom Prison in Monufia and Al-Baadaiya Prison in Damnhur. According to the report, not less than 100 inmates were killed in these prisons in violation of human rights standards and common law.

The documentary as well as the report include testimonies of inmates inside the prisons who witnessed these crimes firsthand, as well as the testimonies of relatives of the murdered inmates. The documentary also includes clips from inside the prisons taken by inmates via cellphones. These clips are being shown for the first time in the media. 

The clips include sounds of heavy gunshot, and traces of gunshots in prison buildings. One clip showed injured inmates while in another inmates in El-Katta Prison speak of how police general Mohamed El-Batran was killed on the order of police officers when he tried to help the inmates and refused the orders of Habib El-Adly, the former minister of interior, to open the prison to create chaos.

According to human rights activist Ramy Raoof, an English version of the report will be available online soon, as well as English subtitles for the documentary. The documentary in Arabic is currently available on the official EIPR YouTube channel.

The documentary was aired last Wednesday on ON TV during the popular TV show “Last Talk” where TV host Yosri Fouda discussed the documentary with human rights activists as well as Dr Manal El-Batran, whose brother’s murder in El-Katta Prison was mentioned in the documentary. Last month, a forensic report was published that proved El-Batran was killed by a sniper bullet.

There have been many calls for the public prosecutor to investigate the atrocities committed in such prisons at the time of the revolution, but no action has yet been taken. EIPR is demanding the government now form an independent fact-finding committee to investigate what happened in the prisons starting from 25 January, and to compensates injured inmates and the families of martyred inmates.

EIPR is also demanding the general prosecutor assign a judge to investigate atrocities in the prisons and to refer accused officers to the criminal court without delay.

EIPR has been outspoken on the need for reform within the police and ministry of interior. It has demanded the ministry suspend immediately all officers accused of participating in atrocities committed against inmates in the concerned prisons, and complete cooperation with any investigation about these incidents.

EIPR has also demanded the ministry implement reform in the administration of prisons, to bring them into accordance with Egyptian law and international standards when it comes to treatment and medical care.

There has been no official reaction from the Interior Ministry to the documentary and associated report.  

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