Amnesty condemns Egypt abuses on revolution anniversary

Ahram Online, Wednesday 5 Feb 2014

International rights group publishes accounts of alleged widespread torture by police on January 25 revolution anniversary

Anti-government protesters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood flee after teargas were fired by riot police during clashes at Ramsis street, which leads to Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, on the third anniversary of Egypt's uprising, January 25, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian security forces made a "staggering" number of arrests and ill-treated detainees, including children, on the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution, Amnesty International said in a report published on Tuesday.

The human rights group quoted testimonies from detainees who claimed they were blindfolded and beaten, subjected to electric shocks, or had their clothes ripped by police. Women and children were among those detained for allegedly belonging to a banned group and/or hampering traffic.

One protester in Cairo told Amnesty he had witnessed girls and women being beaten then taken to a nearby police station where further beatings took place. Others said they had witnessed detainees being given electric shocks.

“I noticed that the walls of the cell were smeared with blood….I was beaten so hard that I was thrown from one side of the room to the other. I was slapped on my face, beaten on my head and cursed for criticising the police and army,” said a detainee quoted in the report.

A 15-year-old girl told Amnesty that a pro-government group beat and dragged her on the ground, ripping her clothes after she was seized in downtown Cairo. They handed her to the police where she was accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood or the April 6 Youth Movement.

After being released she was arrested again at a checkpoint after soldiers found a gas mask and first aid kit in her bag. The girl was held at a military building for two days where she witnessed several men being blindfolded, stripped down to their underwear and given electric shocks using a black device on the shoulders and backs.

Several lawyers told Amnesty that public prosecutors had refused to refer detainees to the forensics department for examinations because their injuries were “minor,” and most investigations had already taken place in the lawyers' absence.

Lawyers said they had been denied access to a number of detention facilities including a Central Security Forces (CSF) Camp on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road. Others said that they were intimidated by security forces and even threatened at gunpoint.

In Tora CSF Camp, where at least 228 detainees were held, lawyers confirmed they had seen several detainees with visible bruises on their faces and other parts of the body.

Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) lawyer Amr Imam said he was threatened at gunpoint by a man in a black uniform when he asked to see a group of detainees being held at Maadi police station.

More than 1,000 people were arrested on 25 January according to the interior ministry. At least 64 people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes between security forces and protesters. Those arrested included individuals sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, members of the 6 April Youth Movement, independent activists as well as bystanders. The vast majority of them remain in detention pending investigations. 

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