Protesters recount torture while in military detention [Egypt]

Mai Shams El-Din writes in Daily News Egypt

CAIRO: Protesters arrested by the military police during its March 9 evacuation of the Tahrir Square sit-in gave testimonials of torture and humiliation while in military custody at the Journalists’ Syndicate on Wednesday.

Protester Salwa Al-Housiny Gouda, said she and a group of young women were forced to strip naked in military prison. The women were asked who was married and who was not. Someone who claimed to be a doctor performed a virginity check on the unmarried women, threatening that if he discovered that any of them wasn’t a virgin, she would be charged with prostitution.

However, none of them was charged with prostitution. After a humiliating and torturous ordeal, Gouda and the rest of the women were released by the military prosecution.

The press conference that titled “No for Military Trials for Civilians” issued a statement demanding the release of all protesters held since the beginning of the January 25 Revolution inside military prisons, and putting on trial whoever is responsible for their torture at the Egyptian Museum or elsewhere.

Many activists have dubbed the museum “the slaughterhouse” referring to beatings and torture practiced there on detainees, before their release or transferal to military prosecution.

An army official who spoke to Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, denied these accusations, saying that the military did not detain anyone on March 9.

According to Adel Ramadan, lawyer with the Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters, 173 were detained on that day, some were released on the same day while others were sentenced to prison. Of those sentenced, some have had their sentences suspended. About 150 are still behind bars.

Actor Ali Sobhy was taken to the military prison on March 9 and but later released by military prosecution.

“I was calling lawyers to report detention cases in front of the Egyptian Museum when an army officer took me inside and started beating me severely,” said Sobhy.

“I previously had an operation in my lung, but they did not care about this and started beating me everywhere.”

Sobhy said that when they were taken to the military prison, cameras filmed them, identifying them as thugs after putting guns and knives in front of them.

“When army officials saw my long hair and knew that I was an actor, they started beating me, saying I wasn’t a man, and insulted me. This was extremely humiliating.”

A journalist gave an account of her detention and also criticized the lack of media coverage.

“Media after January 25 is even more restricted than what we were used to before the revolution,” said journalist Rasha Azab, who was arrested by the military on March 9.

“As a journalist, I cannot publish my testimony in my newspaper, that’s why I had to publish it on the internet.”

Azab said that she was beaten inside the Egyptian Museum.

“There were around 30 women handcuffed and beaten by the army officers inside the museum, and I heard screams of other men who were being tortured in other rooms.”

Azab said that she was released, but alleged that thousands were still detained in the military prison and no one knew anything about them.

“We only arrested those who attempted to harm other people or harass women. These videos [in which released activists recount their torture] are for sure fake; the army cannot torture anyone, with or without orders,” said the anonymous army source.

“There are people who are trying to create rifts between the army and the people, just because they do not like the army.”

Families of other protesters who were still in military custody also recounted their ordeal at the press conference. One of them was the mother of Waleed Samy Saad who was arrested on March 9.

“Waleed protested in Tahrir because he could not find a job. He wanted a better life for himself and for us, so he went to Tahrir to demand his rights,” said Samy’s mothers in tears.

“Protesters who got out of the military prison told me about my polite son who has never violated the law. My son is not a thug; my son is a freedom seeker.”

She said she did not know where her son was, and didn’t know what to bring him back.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Effat.)


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