• August 16, 2015
  • 8 minutes read

Egypt Enforced Disappearances – Heinous Crimes Practiced Systematically by Junta Regime

Egypt Enforced Disappearances – Heinous Crimes Practiced Systematically by Junta Regime

The Arab Organization for Human Rights in the United Kingdom (AOHR) issued a report entitled "Disappeared in Egypt await determination of fate" along with documented details of 14 cases of enforced disappearance by the ruling regime in Egypt, for which this is a systematic practice – actively and extrajudicially used by its security apparatuses until now.

The AOHR report indicated that the crime of enforced disappearance is one of the most serious crimes committed against opponents in Egypt in the wake of the July 3, 2013 coup when authorities began committing this crime as a deliberate and systematic practice to terrorize opponents, quell resistance against the military coup, suppress freedom of opinion and expression, and force the death of the democratic process on all opposition movements and parties in Egypt.

The report added that security services that adopted this ‘practice’ after the July 3, 2013 coup are the same ones that practiced it in the Mubarak era.

Hundreds of civilians were subjected to enforced disappearances since the January 2011 Egyptian Revolution, of whom dozens are still missing until now. This was the case before the Revolution, too. There is no precise count of the numbers of those so forcibly disappeared. Egyptians made up the term "sent behind the Sun" to refer to such cases of forced disappearance to express total hopelessness.

The report noted that Mohsen Bahnasi, member of the Secretariat of the Egyptian fact-finding committee set up to investigate the events of the 2011 Revolution, confirmed that the number of forcibly disappeared civilians is huge, but the committee was able to document only 68 cases who are still missing.

AOHR’s report stressed that, after the July 3, 2013 coup, most civilians arrested by junta forces were promptly subjected to enforced disappearance in National Security HQs or other extrajudicial jails and detention centers, such as the ignominious Azuli military prison in Ismailia, Agroud prison complex in Suez, Battalion 101 HQ in El-Arish and other prisons around the country. Those notorious names have been on the lips of many families of the disappeared and eyewitnesses as well as victims who were released from those prisons and detention centers. They all recounted horrific stories of torture, terror and inhuman ill-treatment. Absurdly, Egyptian authorities do not even admit the existence of the detention centers.

The report stressed that the fate of most of those who were subjected to enforced disappearance was revealed days or months later – after being forced under torture to confess to committing fabricated crimes, with confessions filmed for TV broadcast. Then they got thrown in "official" jails pending fabricated cases often punishable by death in sham trials.

The fate of some of these people is not yet known, especially those who were arrested around the same time as the mass killings carried out by coup authorities during the violent break-up of opposition rallies and protest sit-ins, like the Republican Guard Building massacre, the podium (Manasseh) bloodbath, Rabaa and Nahda massacres, and the Ramses clashes mass-killings. Those are civilian victims of enforced disappearances.

The AOHR report further mentioned that some 129 people were documented as having gone missing in the period from those mass killings of coup opponents and until August 16, 2013. Other cases were added after more coup security raids and clashes across Egypt.

These cases were followed up and the fate of some of them was revealed. Some were held for trials in criminal cases, while others were waiting to be seen by the public prosecutor. Some others were found to have been killed and burnt completely, as proved in DNA analysis results obtained later.

The number of missing persons documented and still missing in various clashes since the July 3, 2013 coup until now are 62 people.

The fate of those missing persons has not yet been determined despite extensive endeavors by the victims’ families through dozens of legal, judicial and administrative processes and procedures in state institutions as well as desperate pleas to all relevant state, sovereign and security apparatuses and institutions, and despite dozens of urgent appeals to international organizations like the United Nations and the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights and dozens of non-governmental organizations concerned with human rights.

Two years on, the efforts of the victims’ families have not been rewarded with success in finding their loved ones. None of the international organizations took any serious step to help them find their missing people’s fate. Therefore, the "Missing" file remains open, and enforced disappearance remains a ‘Continuous Crime’ in Egypt.

AOHR’s report concluded that committing this crime is a serious violation of not only Egyptian law but also international laws and conventions, and amounts to a crime against humanity, for the fact that the prevalence of this crime in this form as documented, verified and witnessed in all governorates of Egypt and the fact that relevant official and judicial authorities have all information and full details and evidence and that families of ‘the disappeared’ have formally reported their cases to all relevant agencies and authorities to determine their fate without any response whatsoever, all these facts confirm that this crime is a matter of systematic practice for security forces under the supervision and management of the current regime and various authorities, in full cooperation with the judiciary and in particular the public prosecution service, which has refused to open a single investigation in any of the hundreds of reports made by the victims’ families about the disappearance of their loved ones.

The report called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to set up a fact-finding committee to uncover the fate of the missing, to prevent the ruthless regime from continuing to commit this crime, and to bring those responsible to justice.

The AOHR report also called on world leaders and decision-makers to take the necessary action to persuade the Egyptian regime to stop this crime once and for all. It also called on the United Nations Secretary-General to re-activate the Special Committee for Forced Disappearance to uncover the fate of the missing.