• August 26, 2015
  • 6 minutes read

Death Chambers, Wadi Natrun Prison

Death Chambers, Wadi Natrun Prison
As part of the ongoing #DeathChambers campaign on social media to raise awareness of the inhuman and illegal treatment of political detainees by Sisi regime in Egypt, we present some of the grave human rights violations inside Wadi Natrun prison complex in the Beheira, north of Cairo,, which is one of the most notorious prisons in Egypt. These violations were gathered from various reports published by human rights groups, as well as testimonies of the detainees themselves:

1. Dark Dungeons: The share of each detainee in a Natrun prison cell is no more than 33 sq cm. The total cell area is 20 square meters, shared by 22 inmates (at best) to 60 inmates. In the winter, no blankets are allowed. At the best of times, a detainees could have only one blanket to serve as mattress and cover at the same time. There is no ventilation in the cells, and no room for exercise. Inmates spend the holy month of Ramadan and other special holidays tightly packed and locked up in the cells.

2. No exercise: In Natrun Prison, some detainees are lucky enough to get 10 minutes of physical exercise. There is no suitable place for any sport. Even when where they exist, they are not used for sport

3. Visits: A visit starts with officers and recruits molesting detainees’ wives, and ends in a 5-minute meeting in a hall where more that 20 inmates are packed. Detainees are supposedly allowed 7 to 10 minutes with their families, who mostly travel more than 200 kilometers to see their loved ones. Detainees are also subjected to most humiliating beatings and obscene insults in front of their visiting families. In the end, most of the food and other stuff families bring are stolen by prison personnel who are tasked with inspections.

4. Torture: Detainees are subjected to daily systematic torture, electric shocks, brutal beatings, heavy chains pulling at arms and legs. As in other junta jails, Natrun Prison administration bans health care completely by way of torturing inmates. It even uses infectious diseases and epidemics to torture prisoners. Indeed, quite often, brutal torture methods kill or permanently maim detainees. At least, torture leads to mental illness. In the most scorching Egyptian summer sun, detainees are severely tortured naked under the burning sun, while prison personnel beat them.

5. Enforced Disappearance: Natrun former prisoners affirm that the prison holds a large number of forcibly disappeared people who were not seen by prosecutors and whose families did not know their whereabouts.

6. Inspections: Each cell gets a daily inspection called ‘the looting’, where prison personnel seize all clothing, blankets and other perfectly legal personal belongings of inmates.

7. Medical Care: According to a statement by a former Natrun detainee, a prison doctor said: "We are here to deal with those who drop dead. The rest may go to hell". There simply is no medical care at all. Detainees are even prevented from receiving medicines or essential treatment from visiting families.

8. Criminal inmates: Privileges in the prison hospital are only for criminal inmates who pay large bribes. They stay in no cells or dungeons, only in the hospital, unlike political prisoners. When inspectors from the National Council for Human Rights visit Natrun Prison, they are taken to ward «1», where "professional craftsmen" work while serving jail sentences. Some criminal inmates are thoroughly pampered. They have cooling fans, adequate lighting and so on. Each of those criminals’ wards has no more than 12 inmates, and has beddings, furnishings and a bathroom. Those criminals are entitled to exercise for long periods. No wonder inspectors think all prisoners live in comfort in Wadi Natrun Prison.