Protests Planned In Response To Alleged Torture
The Hisham Mubarak Law Center has issued a statement which declares a demonstration will take place on Thursday, June 1, in front of Kasr El Nil police station, Garden City. It also asks for other Egyptian human rights organizations to come forward in support and participation in Thursday’s demonstration.
The announcement came following a press conference in front of the lawyers syndicate on Sunday, where Kefaya (Enough) and other activists called for a government investigation into last Thursday’s arrests and alleged torture and sexual abuse.
As demonstrators left the peaceful demonstration in front of the journalists syndicate last Thursday, Karim Al Shaer and Mohamed Sharkawy were reportedly dragged from the vehicles they were in, beaten and taken to Kasr El Nil police station where they were, according to lawyers and activists, beaten. Police at the station, according to his lawyer, Gamal Eid, sexually assaulted Sharkawy.
“They were brutally tortured following their arrest and were sexually abused,” said Aida Seif El Dowla, a leading activist. “This was done by officers in Kasr El Nil police station before they were referred to State Security prosecutors.”
“State Security officers sodomized Mohamed Sharkawy, a young activist, using rolled cartoon paper for nearly 15 minutes. They tore his underwear and threatened to rape him. This came as part of the horrid torture festival that Karim Al Shaer, another activist, was exposed to in Kasr El Nil Police Station,” a Kefaya statement read.
Thursday’s planned demonstration will be in response to these alleged acts.
“The demonstration will protest the torture of Mohamed Sharkawy and Karim Al Shaer (Kefaya activists) by security officers in this station (Kasr El Nil) on Thursday, May 25,” a statement from The Hisham Mubarak Law Center reads.
Ahmed El Droubi, an activist recently released from Tora prison, says that these issues must be brought to light for all Egyptians.
“[The abuse] has gone further than it has ever gone before and it is important for activists and society as a whole to know what is happening,” Droubi argues. “Usually members of Kefaya and other activists haven’t been exposed to that sort of abuse before so it needs to be highlighted.”
The statement continues to claim that the government did not follow the proper procedures, even after El Shaer and Sharkawy were in front of the prosecutor.
“Finally, they were referred to the state security prosecutor’s office where, despite the obvious gravity of their injuries, the prosecutor in charge of the investigation refused to provide them with medical assistance and remanded them in custody for 15 days,” the statement continues.
The Hisham Mubarak Law Center is calling on any organization that wishes to cosponsor the demonstration on Thursday to sign the invitation that is circulating and mobilize its people.
“This sort of demonstration is very important because it highlights what occurred last week and shows we won’t back down,” Droubi adds.
He believes that in order to galvanize the population, the alleged wrongs done against activists need to be exposed.
The announcement for the demonstration came the day after an emotional press conference on Sunday, which saw Kefaya coordinator George Ishaq break down in tears. Ishaq says that they will be taking the crimes perpetrated against Al Shaer and Sharkawy to an international audience.
“We are currently collecting the names of all officers who took part in detaining and torturing the activists and we will publish these names everywhere; in the press and on the Internet,” says Ishaq. “We are approaching international courts and the United Nations with our cases … in Britain, Switzerland and Belgium … and we have succeeded in presenting previous cases of harassment to their courts.”
Kefaya and other human rights groups see Thursday’s demonstration as a way of getting the word out on what is going on in Egypt.
“What has been happening to these activists is that a message has been sent to all [the] opposition,” says Ghada Shahbandar, director of government monitoring group Shayfeen.com. “They want to tell activists: ‘How dare you go down to the streets and protest.’ They want to silence them.”
Also on Thursday, in front of the doctor’s syndicate, another demonstration will be held. It is scheduled for 7 p.m.
In other news, the detainees at Tora who began a hunger strike on Sunday have been moved into solitary confinement. As there are only 10 cells of this kind in Tora, three of the detainees, including Al Shaer, were moved to another prison, Tora Mazraa, due to limited space.