When I first thought of writing this file, I noticed the growing number of torture cases that are getting more and more intention. Is it poverty that turns man into a monster who does not bat an eyelid when torturing a fellow human being? Is it favoritism, bribery or mere arrogance of power? I used to think that torture began to spread only this year and felt bewildered. I wondered if can find enough torture cases to compile a good file to satisfy the readers. But when I opened the file I found that the number of the tortured exceeded all of my expectations. I did not know that they are thousands and that the number of police officers who perform such a crime are far more than those honourable ones who respect this great patient people. I was worried to be accused of distorting the image of Egyptian police officers. But now it dose not matter any more; whether I speak out or not, it is too obvious to be exposed.
This file is simple attempt to narrate very view torture cases of those who suffered nearly from a massacre which can have no other meaning. The tortured becomes vulnerable, unable to speak about what happened to himher because heshe cannot comprehend what had happened and why. It is difficult for them to rehabilitate because they are mentally and physically devastated. This is exactly what we are talking about. Psychological, mental and physical destruction resulting from torture is not due to physical pain, but rather its repercussions. It is almost like smashing a board of glass with a hammer turning it into tiny pieces that may hurt, wound or even kill….
This file aims at unveiling the fact that torture is not isolated incidents anymore practiced by brutal individuals who lost their sense of humanity. They are using torture as means for extracting confessions, imposing power or venting psychological reactions that no one was able to cure.
This file does not contain all torture cases, but only a few. It does not aim at defaming the police body, which is already infamous. It is an wake-up outcry… although it is doubted. It is an attempt to speak out for anyone to wake up and listen to the victims’ cries.
Torture in International Conventions
Torture in International Conventions:
The United Nations passed an agreement against torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment. The agreement was approved on December 10th, 1984 and came into effect on June 26th 1987 as per provisions of article 27.
Egypt was one of the countries that signed this document. But it seems that Egypt does not respect any international charters and agreements signed let alone internal laws and conventions.
The first article of this agreement defines torture as any action resulting in sever physical or mental pain or torture, inflected in purpose on a person with the aim of extracting information, confession or as a punishment for an act committed or suspected of being perpetrated by that person. It also goes for acts of intimidation or attempts to compel a person into doing something for one reason or another whether the torturer is doing that in his official or non-official capacity. The resulting pain or torture might not be only direct but as a circumstantial effect as well.
This is what the first article stipulates which is not applicable to Egypt . Most confessions taken by police officers are extracted through direct torture; whether by officers themselves or their official or non-official assistants. This type pf torture is too well known in Egypt and to the Ministry of Interior which almost supervises such acts. Torture is totally organized and directly inflected on individuals. Article two of the agreement stipulates that all countries should take effective legislations and legal procedures to prevent torture acts in territories under their jurisdiction.
This what the UN says. But in Egypt , the Ministry of Interior supplies torture tools to police stations. The DA found a large number of sticks, clubs and other torture tools in one of the police stations. Policemen also take specialized training courses in torture. They are practice on detainees in jails as demonstrated in a video that shows a police academy student practicing torture over a citizen who brutally beaten in his neck.
In para 2 of the second article the convention states that it is prohibited to use any exceptional circumstances such as war, a threat of war, instability or any other public emergency status as an excuse for torture. In Egypt torture is practiced all the time not under marshal law only. Keep in mind that Egypt lives under marshal law since World War II and was suspended only for 17 years in different intervals. The last time this law was suspended was 26 years ago which means that Egypt is living a state of emergency for 26 years.
The fourth article of the same agreement states that all torture acts are considered crimes which is applicable to any person attempting to commit or involved into this crime and shall be tried under criminal law of the country that signed the agreement. Procedural law in Egypt allows torturers to evade the law. Under article 162 criminal lawsuits can be suspended: “Civil prosecution may appeal orders issued by investigation judge for lack of competence unless the rule is issued against a public servant or a police officer during his time of duty or because of his profession”. That is how torture victims are deprived of their rights to be compensated or to appeal should the crime take place while the officer was on duty….
An individual may surpass the DA to reach court rooms, but it is possible that the judge dismisses the case for lack of evidence as per article 154 of the penal procedure law that says: “If the investigation judge deems the incident not punishable under the law or due to insufficient evidences, he could dismiss the case.” Punishment can be evaded in case of difficulty to prove such a crime as the victims are usually tortured eye-folded, officers use false names and torture sometimes leaves no clear signs for forensic medical authorities to identify.
In addition, forensic medicine records physical injuries only ignoring psychological ones despite the fact that they are more effective and devastating.
Article six of the agreement stipulates the necessity to have clear reasons for detention or arrest provided that the detention should be limited to a certain period necessary for indicting and completing the investigations.
In Egypt , a citizen was detained for two years. He was tortured during that period without knowing that he was illegally held.
" The whole story started in November 1995, when the prosecution authority decided to jail me for four days bending interrogations on charges of forging a birth certificate. The judge released me on LE 100 pail", Hanna said.
HE pointed that he should have been freed but Awseem police station referred him to the criminal investigation department in the morning of December 21st where I was held till dawn of December 23rd.
During that period, I was subjected to torture and they forged my signature on arrest warrant. The officer presented the false order issued by the prosecution authority. When I was referred to the prosecution officer, I was bleeding due to torture. When he discovered the fake arrest warrant, he felt that both the police officer and himself were in trouble. To protect himself, he wrote that the documents were referred to him only that morning. He admitted me to Imbaba public hospital for medication rather than having a medical report.
"During interrogation, he got me to oath and thus considering me the wronged not the felon. Then he ordered investigations into the case, but I was taken to the roof of Awseem police station where I was kept there for two years from December 23rd 1995 till December 30th 1997. When I was released I discovered that I was held all that long time without the prosecution consent".
Most international conventions prohibited torture. The Egyptian constitution itself prohibited torture in one of its articles. In another article, mentioned above, it prevented suing the perpetrator should the judge rule against the case. But Egypt does not honour international conventions as long as, in its viewpoint, it was protecting the state or the ruling regime.
Torture.. its Mechanisms, Methods and Results
Torture is one of the oldest forms of violence performed by some persons against others. Racist and discriminative inclinations were among the prominent motives behind violence. They emerge from contempt of the other, persecution of the weak and a feeling of superiority. Torture is a way to claim strength, power and the ability to harm others whenever and however it is occurred to them. It is an effective method to force the weak to do what the torturer wants, to confess or even a way to please a third party backed by the police or assumes high position or at least a statesman as was the case in most of the instances….
Torture is one of the most horrible methods known to humanity. Despite being widespread in some societies – such as Egypt – it is rare to find anyone talking about it, whether being the tortured or psychologists. Torture is a hard experience for anyone to talk about as being beyond human knowledge. It is too violent, shocking and painful for the victim to understand. No previous or subsequent experience is similar unless it is repeated…
Describing a torture case requires that the victim recalls all memories of the situation with all time and place details which means feeling the whole experience again causing greater pain for the victim. Memories entail psychological pain that may exceed torture pain itself… Naturally, the reaction is complete silence whether being from the part of the victim or the psychiatrist who does not wish to aggravate the pain for the victim…
Also, psychological pains suffered by the tortured cannot be diagnosed as psychological or physical so as to be treated or medically classified like any other illness. The victim goes through a state of what can be called – self loss – for heshe experiences psychological and mental shattering and the lack of self feeling as one whole. One of torture victims expressed his feeling as (a glass shattered into tiny pieces). The victim also feels the loss of one’s human entity. Feeling such distraction, man’s only solution becomes death or even non-existence….
Torture is a form of intentional and organized violence which the victim lives consciously without having the ability to understand, control or identify its dimensions. Still, the victim does not expect any response from the part of the torturer then falls into a state of improbability … and a psychological disbelieve. After all, torture aims not only at deleting the victim’s unlimited freedom, will and ability to control one’s body but to rule out human entity and turn it into a mere object of torture… And that is the secret of its strength….
Any illness with powerful pains dose not cause symptoms like those imposed by torture. Even earthquakes and volcanoes are tangible conditions unlike torture that is incomprehensible….
Psychological Effects of Torture
Acquired weakness and despair: This condition takes place when things turn to be out of man’s control over events and incidents related to himher. A psychological theory explains the reasons behind chronicle depression that happens when the theory of reward and punishment is unclear. During torture, the victim learns that it will go on even after admitting required information. Pain simply does not stop… That is why there is no sense of any response so long as it will not make any difference in one’s reality…
Destroying Logical Experience “meaning”: In regular circumstances, the brain organizes life experiences and situations, divides and classifies them logically and connects them with the past in a way that the brain can comprehend in certain context. It is a matchless unpredictable moment that brings time to a stand still with no sense of continuity. Then the meaning of existence ceases. The victim becomes deeply isolated beyond place, time and events…
Reality and Imagination: When reality becomes stranger and more painful than imagination and expectation, the feeling of agony and non-logic becomes overwhelming. Consequently, things lose their meaning and value as some torture methods are designed to break the victim’s feeling of truth and everyday realities (like hanging the victim in a ceiling fan and turn it on) which makes himher have a mix up in directions and place..
Division: Human body has a double nature as something that is objective and separate. In ordinary circumstances, we deal with our bodies and souls as one unit and our self- perception is more inclined to unite in (I). For instance, when the body feels comfortable, the soul feels the same and a pre-experience of comfort is formed. In torture situations, and due to subsequent grave suffering, the body becomes separate from the soul, perception and awareness fail to act as one. That is why a sever division takes place between the person and hisher self-perception.
Previously mentioned dynamics are demonstrated in torture situations as physical and psychological symptoms felt by the victim for long time and may be for life. These symptoms are divided into three sections:
Physical: They are the most common among torture victims, including loss of appetite, chronic headache, bone and muscle pains, stomach and digestive organ disorder, heart diseases, and hypertension and gland disorder.
Behavioural: including some changes in character features, such as drug addiction, alienation, a feeling of disability, lack of self-confidence, obsession, dependence and sometimes aggressiveness in cases of calm peaceful personalities that suffer from sever torture.
Emotional and Mental: most common: chronic depression as demonstrated in the inability to enjoy life and compelling desire to die or commit suicide, suicidal ideas, a feeling of guilt, disability, sleeping and memory troubles…
All these troubles and results imposed on torture victims create a society that is internally incoherent and defeated (psychologically) and externally (physically).Then individuals turn into time bombs that could explode at any time if possible. They may wait patiently, but only to explode more powerfully. Human rights associations proved that the number of torture victims exceeds thousands. Only few of those who enter police stations are not abused or tortured by police officers or subordinates – detectives and so on. Only recently, police officers are brought into trial but rarely convicted. They are often treated leniently and that is why they get away from punishment that in turn facilitates more torture … particularly when it results in death.
A Police Officer…Congrats…You have power and Torture
When you are a police officer, it means power – fortune – influence and may be torture. This is not Egypt "s royal regime but in the Arab Republic of Egypt which they claim to be democratic. When you are a policeman you are above all problems and even you face one with anyone, your colleagues will make you a favour and torture or even kill himher for you. So don’t worry…just join the police academy and you will enjoy all the powers, influence and money before you graduate. You could collect money by force from the weak who lost hope for a decent life. Just put your step into the academy. This is the way it works in Egypt . And that is why thousands of secondary school graduates struggle to join all sorts of police academies, because they and their fathers know very well that the only way to protect their families is to have influence, money or power or all the three by joining the police.
Away from attempt to get confessions and persecution, a police officer might ask you for money.. or else. The citizen Saleh Abdul Aziz Saleh was driving his “Tock Tock” down the main street of Abou Hammad Center , Sharqia Governorate. A police officer called Tamer Haider Oloy at Abou Hammad of the Traffic authorities, stopped him and asked for LE 20. Saleh offered to give him only L.E. 5 which did not please the officer who took along with his vehicle to Abou Hammad traffic center. Before getting into the building, they had an argument after the police officer started to call the citizen names. Some traffic soldiers went out and dragged the citizen inside where he was beaten with leather belts and was bunched and kicked. One of the soldiers hit him with a hammer on his head and ribs. During that time Mahmoud Al Faramawy Abou Hammad another traffic officer was at the center and took part in the assault. Then they reported to Abou Hammad police station that the (defendant) citizen was the one who attacked the officer and hit his own head to the wall. Detectives immediately hurried to the center and took the citizen to the police station where the chief investigator Yaser Farouk wrote down report no.100232007 charging Saleh with assaulting the police officer
Head investigator admitted the citizen into hospital hand-cuffed and under police custody due to his bad medical condition without public prosecution’s permission. Public prosecution decided to release him unless he is indicted in any other crimes and to be examined by medical authorities to diagnose his injuries and the instrument used to inflict them. The citizen was out of hospital on Sunday August 4th and was taken to Abou Hammad police station where he was held to force him to become reconciled with the police officer and the traffic officer. Police elements threatened to arrest him during his illegal detention if he does not agree. Abou Hammad police officer refrained from executing the DA decision to examine Saleh by medical authorities with the aim of concealing evidences of his injuries.
The incident turned into an assault by Saleh who refused to pay the LE twenty and the one who asked was a police officer.. full obedience is a must for all officers.
When a car accident takes place between an officer and an ordinary citizen, it is certain that the citizen is to blame and deserves to be punished simply because policemen do not err. This is the case with the police who are supposed to be the servants of the people.
The story starts on 1582007 when a simple car accident between a taxi holding the license no. 155 North Sinai and a private car no. 198700 Giza . The private car’s owner – who was wearing a first lieutenant uniform – attacked the taxi driver Ahmad Abd El Gawad Salama Al Hegawy and injuried him after he had beaten by a number of Marg police station police officers who prevented other people and drivers from intervening to rescue the driver from the hands of policemen. As if the assault was not enough.. the officer broke the taxi’s windshield and ruined the tires. He also threatened to kill the driver calling him and his people: “spies and sons of ..”. After act of bully is over and the police officer left, the driver lodged a complaint no. 18195 with Marg misdemeanour and a medical report no.19683 was issued by Marg hospital. Ahmad Al Hegawy demanded to restore his right as a citizen who was insulted by a policeman who accused him of being a spy because he is from North Sinai and the officer has power and influence.
In Egypt, do not ever marry a beautiful woman and if you do, you have to hide her form dishonest police officers or one of them might see her and admire her beauty and snatches your life, toil and money as well as your wife after forcing you to divorce her. A simple citizen called Shokri from Beni Suief works as a porter in an apartment block and suffered from grave injustice by a police brigadier called Magdy Al Said head of the criminal surveillance department of Giza security forces. Brigadier Magdy kidnapped Shokry’s cousin and wife and his enfant daughter assisted by three of his men.
The incident began on Friday 1312007 when Shokry was getting ready to leave to perform his Friday prayers. Three persons in police uniform suddenly rushed in- one of them was a brigadier and two lower rank officers. They dragged him to the floor, hit him and pointed their guns at him threatening to kill him and his family if he screams or asks for help. Then they forced him to sign on bills and stole L.E 15.000, including LE 14500 his life time savings and L.E 500 belonged to the inhabitants. They also compelled him to divorce his wife and kidnapped her and his six-year old daughter. When the wife managed to contact her husband she said that they tortured her and the brigadier told him that he married her. Shokry lodged many complaints that were all filed, including one to the presidency, a complaint with Giza police force, two for the DA, three for the ministry of interior and two at Abdeen Palace . When he tried to enter the headquarters of Giza police, he was prevented three times and was threatened that he would be sent to jail. When he tried to call brigadier Magdy, he threatened to arrest him and his family. As for his family, it was scattered since the abduction of the mother. Four children left school, the other children went back to their village to live with their relatives there and the two-year Ahmad is fed ‘water and sugar’. The inhabitants of the building asked Shokry to remarry or leave within 9 days as he is unable to serve them and his children. Now he works in shoe shining after he sold his furniture and no comment.
If you decide to take a means of transport, make sure that no police officer is on board. If you still decide to do so make sure that you have change otherwise the officer might decide to hit and insult you because you dared to ask the rest of your money back.
This is exactly what had happened to a lawyer called Ahmad Abdul Aziz who got into a microbus and when he asked the driver for change he was stunned that a police assistant sergeant Ashraf Morgan was so angry to know that he asks for getting his 25 piaster only back. The officer started to call Abdul Aziz names who tried to show resentment when he ordered the detectives who was accompanying him to hit him. The police assistant kept saying: “Do not you who I am? I am the police assistant of the station.” As the officer knew that the defendant was a lawyer, he called all lawyers names. He ordered the detectives to cuff him and led him to another microbus to the police station. The lawyer felt suffocation and then fainted as they were trying to hang him down and was admitted to Al Mataria Educational Hospital whose report confirmed injuries in his back and bruises in the neck.
These are only a few examples of so many that is known about abuses perpetrated by policemen, such as getting money by force, hitting, insults, torturing even respectable citizens like university professors and lawmakers, such as Yasser Hammoud, lawmaker and member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was beaten up in public regardless of his social position. Those violations against helpless people are constantly increasing and no one can hit back or defend the citizens whose cases were turned into a figure for counting only. Killing over a thousand Egyptians in a sunken fury is not a crime demanding punishment. Killing three thousand people in a fire is not also a crime. In our homeland, everything is an accident because human beings were turned into a number, which makes no difference if it goes up or down.
Weclome You Are in Police Station
Tortured, beaten, degraded etc, they are alternative words that you can easily hear from a person it happened to go to the police station not as a detainee but as a complainant.
You might be held in custody only to be left as a breathless body such as Ahmed Badei Khafaga (May 2007), Saad Rezkallah Khalil (Many 2007) and Tarek Fatouh Emam (Many 2005). The police claimed that the three hanged themselves despite the fact that the latter had served his term and contacted his family to inform them of his release within 48 hours but he left a dead body.
Police for the service of the people, this is the slogan of the Egyptian police, but it seems that this slogan has changed to be the police for the service of people"s torture.
Even children, Mohamed Mohamed Mamdouh, 12, was killed in a police station in Mansoura. Other children preceeded him including Saddam Hussein from Waraq and Abdallah Rezk Abdulatif in 6th of October police station.
If you are tortured you can lodge a complaint against the police but we regret that we would not guarantee that you would leave unharmed or at the best we would not guarantee that you would not be indicted by the prosecution and turn to be the suspect. This is exactly what had happened to Mohamed Abdel Aziz Abdel Fatah, Abdel Razik Abdel Aziz Abdel Fatah and Ahmed Ali Abdou. Alexndria misdemeanour court of Bab Shark passed a ruling on April 16th 2007 in the case no. 47678 in 2006 acquitting police assistants Al-Arabi Saleh Mohamed and Gomaa Abdel Monsef Ibrahim who serve at Bab Shark police station of the charges of using violence.
The court convicted Mohamed Abdel Aziz Abdel Fatah, Abdel Razak Abdel Aziz and Ahmed Ali Abdou, with charges related to the same case of resisting authorities. The court ordered them to serve three months in jail, LE 200 in bail as well as a temporary compensation of LE 501.
Police officers led them to the police station and tortured them and thus they turned to be the perpetrators. It would be a bad omen, if a crime takes place in you village or city because police officers could very possibly arrest the inhabitants of the entire village to get one of them to confess. This exactly what had happened on April 21st, 2007 at Armant village where citizen Walid Ibrahim was found killed in a sugarcane field. To uncover the perpetrator, policemen in Armant resorted to the only means they know about criminal investigations.
They arrested the largest number of citizens possible and tortured them so as to get one of them to confess the crime.
About 45 citizens were detained and tortured including women and children. They were held, beaten, electrically shocked and harassed, the result was that Sayed Hassan Mohamed, a citizen, was killed under torture at the police station in Armant at the presence of his wife and son aged 14.
The police considered the killing of Sayed Hassan a compensation for the family of Walid Ibrahim for his killing
In Egypt , lawmakers in service of people"s torture
In Telbana village, Hassan Khaled Hamad, a member of the Shura council, and Mrs. Hayam Amer, a member of the People"s Assembly of Belqas constituency pressed the family of torture victim to withdraw their complaint against police officers. This is simply the situation in police stations and the secret part is worse manifested in secret prisons, torture to death and hiding bodies, as well as throwing detainees from the windows of police stations. They might do that themselves for fear of a dark fate. This took place in realty when citizen Naser Gerges through himself off the window of the police station on the fourth floor. There are a large number of such cases that led to death but they were put out of sight.
Blogs against Torture
Blogs against torture is a slogan raised by Egyptian blogs protesting torture and thus decided to expose every new video or picture of torture incidents they could get. This might be because some Egyptian bloggers were tortured in police stations or beaten and dragged along in the street. A large number of bloggers, whether being Muslim brothers or others, were arrested only to boost the popularity of their campaign. Some bloggers were detained after they had exposed torture clips or torture cases or held press conference where they unveiled that they were tortured in police stations or during their detention like the case of Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, a blogger and a journalist affiliated to the Muslim Brothers. He was detained anew after he wrote about the torture he faced during his arrest. This led to his detention again for about three months.
Another blog by Noha Atef about torture in Egypt . The blog is more than excellent as it consists of a large number of torture cases perpetrated by the police or elements having direct or indirect link to the Egyptian police. The blog has a large number of testimonies both old and new. What is unique about Noha"s blog is that she showed that torture in Egypt started long ago not lately as it seemed. The blog provides a large number of heinous torture cases by police men or elements affiliated to the Interior Ministry against citizens that took place 10 or 15 years ago. This has exposed the government and was considered a great embarrassment to it, if the government is ever to concern.
Noha"s blog has won other bloggers and rights groups interest. Each post Noha writes has no less than 1000 viewers. The number of a single post sometimes reaches 4000. The blog drew the state security anger as a number of state security officers threatened her father and Noha herself. She had to back down for some time and scale down the tone of her writings. She even stopped writing from some time to safeguard her family and father. Noha is back again to write about torture stories which could take volumes of violations if it took place in any state that respects itself or its people, the government would resign but smile you are in Egypt !
Betza or Kofta Blog
Magdy Saad, an ikhwan blogger, who faced horrible torture in a police station after he was arrested along with a number of his brotherhood friends. Magdy wrote "A first attempt to break the silence regarding practices of mean class of the society who subjugating the innocent by terror, torture and physical and psychological harm. Your role is to send your comment if you were subject to any of such violations and to encourage others not to keep silent". Magdy was subject to painful beating by a police officer during his detention to get his confession. He was subjected to electric shocks for a long time to the extent that his hair got burnt. He was tortured for seven consecutive hours. During interrogations, he was denied water and when he asked for water the police officer asked him to open his mouth to drink when he opened his mouth the officer put an electric rod into his mouth and triggered shock waves.
Magdy gave his blog this name because the police officer who tortured him used to ask him bitza or kofta. If he answers I do"not know he used to beat him if he answered kofta he hit him and when answered bitza he used to beat him as well in all cases he was beaten.
Yasar Sinai " to the left of Sinai" Blog
The blog is related to violations facing Sinai inhabitants. It is well known that Sinai people are among the most oppressed from the part of the state. They are suspected of spying for Israel despite the fact they are known to be a fortification wall protecting Egypt "s northeast. Sinai people are always subject to torture. Nobody knows the torture they are facing as their Bedouin nature considers such kind of violation an honour degradation that necessitates revenge. When they face suppression they could keep patient but there will come the time when they would revolt beyond all expectations.
The state is trying to evacuate the border line of their Egyptian inhabitants to build a 150-metre separation wall along the borders with Gaza . This means the end of Egyptian Rafah. When the inhabitants protested because they have no other place to go, thousands of Egyptian security soldiers attacked the protesters and barbarically pushed them out using tear gas leaving children suffocated. They even used life ammunition, which resulted in three serious injuries. When the inhabitants protested, the state response was extremely violent firing bullets, grenades and tear gas leaving Awad Mohamed Arafat, 17, killed and another infant, 5, dead of suffocation due to tear gas.
This came after they had confronted security forces and its barbarism despite the fact that they were peacefully protesting the confiscation of their lands and homes against a regime that wants to drive them out of their land to guarantee Israel "s security.
These blogs contributed to great extend in shedding light on torture issues which prevailed the Egyptian street at a time their owners are facing harassment of the Egyptian security which hates to see anyone exposing it to itself despite the fact that it does not care much for that.