In Egypt, diary of ‘torture’ captures police brutality
Hundreds of allegations have been logged into Egypt’s “torture diary,” a chronicle of claimed police brutality compiled by the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, an independent victims advocacy group in Cairo
On any given day in Egypt, a U.S. ally with a much-criticized human rights record, citizens who cross the nation’s security forces may be subject to brutal violence, according to a leading human rights organization here.
Complaints arrive daily: An 18-year-old man was beaten in a police station and thrown off a third floor balcony. Another man was punched and flogged. Earlier, a family was dragged to the police station, where the father was beaten and the women were threatened with rape.
These and hundreds more allegations have been logged into Egypt’s “torture diary,” a chronicle of claimed transgressions compiled by the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, an independent victims advocacy group.
Drawing on news reports, a hot line and attorneys for those who say they were on the receiving end of state-sponsored violence, the center notes alleged incidents each day, then releases a full report at the end of each month
According to local human rights groups, which work with Nadeem to compile the accounts, police brutality in the Arab world’s most populous nation has become the norm rather than the exception.
The 18-year-old man, Mohamed Salah, a minivan driver, reportedly was assaulted and tortured July 4 by two plainclothes police agents in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura. He was eventually thrown off the third floor balcony. He is currently in a coma.
April 8 was an especially busy day for complaints against Egypt’s security forces: A 24-year-old man allegedly was flogged and punched at a police station in the ancient city of Giza, the home of Egypt’s pyramids, because he refused to inform on drug dealers in his neighborhood.
In the Nile Delta, police reportedly beat 200 people and arrested 10 of them during a peaceful demonstration against a sudden hike in housing costs.
Three pro-reform activists allegedly were held without charge after they distributed fliers in support of Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who’s emerged as a possible challenger to the U.S.-backed authoritarian president, Hosni Mubarak.
State sanctioned violence?
The Nadeem center’s diarists charge that the reports reveal patterns of state-sanctioned violence that could help victims’ cases and prove to Egypt’s Western allies that the Mubarak administration’s promises of reform are empty.
Despite several requests, the Egyptian Interior Ministry wouldn’t make an official available to comment for this article.
Magda Adly, the director of the Nadeem center, said that Nadeem and other groups had presented the cases to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which convened last month. The council periodically reviews countries’ human rights records.
“It is a counter-message to what the state is doing. These are not the mistakes of one person, this is a systematic intimidation and humiliation of 80 million Egyptians,” said Adly, who charged that she, too, had been a victim of state security tactics when a policeman beat her so badly in 2008 that she fell and broke her shoulder.