The Fourth Anniversary of the Torture of Detainee #25

The Fourth Anniversary of the Torture of Detainee #25

Below is Monem’s testimony on undergoing torture, written by himself in English. It was originally posted to his second blog, Monem Press, on January 21, 2007. It has been edited for clarity by Mary Joyce

That night four years ago or, to be more precise, on January 14, 2003, they came into our home and told me to cover my eyes and then they took me…where?

Four years ago we were arrested by national security forces. There were fourteen of us, all members of the Muslim Brotherhood, meeting to organize a protest against the war in Iraq. Our meeting took place in the Al Zaitouna neighborhood to the east of Cairo. We were taken assaulted in a terrifying and traumatic way, similar to the assaults on the houses of Palistinian militants by the Israelis. They demanded that we lie down on the ground and they handcuffed us from behind.

They made us appear before the state security prosecutor, accused of “belonging to an illegal organizations” (the Muslim Brotherhood). The prosecutor decided that we would be placed in provisional custody for fifteen days at Mazraat Tarh prison, for the benefit of the investigation.

On the morning of January 14, 2003, we were again brought before the prosecutor and he added fifteen more days to our sentence. We got into the transport vehicle that brought us to the Tarh penitentiary complex, except that this time we were directed towards another prison within this complex that turned out to be the “reception prison” for receiving new inmates.

The office in charge of our transfer told us that they were obliged to kept us in this new prison for just one night because there were searches going on throughout the Tarh prison…. This did not surprise me as I did not yet know what awaited us!

A Short Class

We entered the new prison, the one in which we were to spend just one night. Around midnight, the director of the reception prison came to see us and demanded that we get out. We had asked him if we were going to return to our original prison and he told us, ” no, you are leaving for a simple one hour class and then you will come back here again, but each one of you should take something to protect your necks from the cold.” Because I did not understand at all and because it was not cold I left the cell without anything to cover my neck.

Suddenly the officer surprised me by saying, “my son, take something clean to cover your eyes in case the blindfolds are soiled.”

I was surprised…! Blindfold my eyes…!!! Why? Where were we going?

It was at that time that Aimen Abdel Ghani (currently in detention) called out to me and said, “Abdel Monem, it seems that they are taking us to Madinet Nasr (where the state security headquarters is located). May god give you strength… may he give us all strength.”

Aimen then gave me a t-shirt and I blindfolded myself. We left for the main hall of the prison, accompanied by the guards, et we were surprised by the deep voice which told us not to say another word and to leave all our personal effects in the prison.

Then I told the person with the deep voice, “I have nothing but a Koran and my prayer beads.”

He responded rudely saying, “no, my darling, you won’t be needing those.”

The person with the deep voice took hold of me and attached my hands to my back with a metallic cord. He made me get into a vehicle (I don’t know what type) and told me to sit down. I sat on the floor or I stood, wondering whether this was a transport van (that is, a vehicle without seats). It was then that I was surprised by a violent punch in the face and the voice told me, “don’t look at the seats, you son of a…” (he insulted me).

I said to myself, “how do you expect me to look at anything since my eyes are blindfolded?” I was very scared. And the vehicle, which seemed to be a bus, started.

Guantanamo Reception

Suddenly, the bus stopped and dipped sharply as if it was going underground. Then, they ordered us to get out of the car while we were being showered with dirty insults and they put us in a line. Then came a man with a sonorous and coarse voice to say “welcome, I’d like to inform you where you are …you are here in Guantanamo” adding “here, we have tortured the top militants of Al-Qaeda…You are here to know your real identity, bastards. Do you think that you are really a group…you are bastards here.” After that he said “Here you aren’t human beings; you’re just figures. Anyone who is asked about his identity and says his name will face hell.”

That’s true. We were to identify ourselves by number. I was prisoner “25.” whenever anyone was asking about my identity, I would say:” I am 25 sir” whoever forgets and tells his real name, he would be dealt a series of severe beating for forgetting his code name in the torture headquarters.

He ordered us to take off our shoes and our socks to remain barefoot throughout our 13-day detention in this place, with our faces to the wall. We remained standing barefoot on the ceramic floor for more than 14 hours. Whoever fell on the ground out of fatigue would be helped to stand up with beatings and slaps.

When our cellmate, Dr. Mohamed Al Qadi, a university professor, shouted at them, “We want to perform the dawn prayers which passed a while ago and we are still standing. A guard or officer answered him “perform the prayers with your eyes, you bastard, you aren’t in a mosque here.” After the fourteen hours of standing up, they sent us to solitary grave-size cells. Every one of them has a cement terrace, a primitive WC and a water tap.

After I entered the cell and closed the door, I tried to remove the blindfold, assuming that I could remove it while I was in the cell.
Suddenly, the door opened ….I saw him and he saw me…He seemed to be a guard, powerful and stout. He directed several severe punches at my face and insulted me, saying ” Why have you removed the blindfold!!??”. After that I didn’t remove the blindfold during the 13 days to the extent that I even asked the officer during the interrogation to fix it well lest it fall and I face more punches because they feared that I might have seen them.

The Prison System

I stayed for 13 days in 2×3 meter cell. I spent five full days in it sleeping, praying and using the WC while I was handcuffed behind my back. At mealtime, the guard would handcuff me in front. I was obliged to remain on this cement terrace all the time, including performing the prayers because the floor was not clean. I remained throughout this period without any sheet to cover me although we were in January, a very cold winter month.

We had three meals a day. Breakfast was a loaf of bread with a very small piece of cheese, a smaller piece of sweet halva, or five to ten beans and a small bit of jam, the same as had been served at dinner. As for lunch, it was a loaf of bread with a very small amount of rice and a small piece of meat or chicken.

A doctor was passing everyday in the mornings and evenings to cure any wounds and to give us tablets demanding that we swallow them. I was throwing them in the WC immediately after he got out. Every two or three hours, a guard passed and I was obliged to stand up as soon as I saw that the door was open. If I lingered for a moment or two, I would be showered with a series of dirty insults and beatings.

It was impossible to sleep in this cell: first because most interrogations took place from midnight until dawn; second: because all night long the guards were awake smoking cannabis (marijuana) and exchanging very dirty insults in extremely loud and troublesome voices.

The Interrogations

The first night in which I appeared before an interrogator – definitely aana ikhwan” state police officer – I was handcuffed behind my back, blindfolded and barefoot. The interrogating officer shouted at the guard and said to him: “You donkey, when he comes here, before the investigation, he should be handcuffed from the front.” In the beginning the interrogator dealt with me in a decent manner, saying: “We are sorry, Abd Al-Moneim for the methods here. This is actually our job and this is the system of the place.” Then he said:” you seem to be a respectable highborn man and don’t deserve bad treatment…. You will certainly help me and won’t lie to me” I recognized his method of affecting me to make me disclose the secrets of the group.

Suddenly, the interrogator stopped talking and silence prevailed, to be broken by screams coming from outside the room. A man was screaming because of the torture and saying:” stop torturing me, I will speak out, I will tell you everything, to raise his screaming again”.

Then, the interrogator spoke again and said to me:” Sit down, you are tired” and I sat on the floor.

Then, he said again:” Do you know whose voice is this Abd Al-Moneim!!! – ( I was silent as I can’t speak out of extreme fear).
This is Ibrahim Al Dib (the owner of the house in which we were detained)” he said” because he is lying to us and doesn’t want to speak”

I felt that he was frightening me and threatening me to disclose everything I knew about the Muslim Brotherhood.
Suddenly the door was opened with the man of the sonorous coarse voice who shouted at the investigator, saying:” How can you allow him to sit down” then he showered us with a series of dirty insults, and said: “Start torturing him.”

The investigator said:”Excuse me sir, Abdul Moneim is a good guy and he will tell us everything” I felt then that they are trying to intimidate me. The investigations continued with me for eight consecutive days and they were held twice a day; he was asking me about every thing that I was doing in my life and what I was doing in the university (he had accurate tips). When I dened his charges or refused to talk, I was severely beaten by the guard with the feet and fists. This was definitely taking place on a daily basis during the period of the investigation.

My interrogation ended after eight days but I was held for more five days in my cell to increase the psychological pressure. I also heard the screams of my colleagues, and they heard mine, while they were beaten by the guard.

Ending Investigations

The investigations with all the group: they released us from the cells in the middle of the night and gave us our shoes and we rode a bus which seemed to be the same one that brought us there. But while returning, they ordered us to put our heads under chairs and they covered us with blankets. “Any one raising his head will be blown up” said a guard.

We returned again to the reception prison. The warden came to us and said that we would have a little walk and ordered us to remove the blindfolds to see each other for the first time after this long period.

In the morning, we returned to the first prison at Tora farm and we decided to inform the prosecution of what had happened to us, the illegal kidnapping from prison and our facing physical and psychological tortures.

In the prosecution headquarters, Mr. Abdul Moneim Abdul Maqsood, the lawyer who defended us, advised us not to raise this issue because there were no signs of torture on our bodies and so that they would not refer us to the forensic medicine specialist and they would never issue a report condemning the police.

We didn’t speak out and the prosecutor ordered that our detention be prolonged for up to six months. The last one of us was released last June.

But our silence gave the state security police the opportunity to repeat their crime in another case that involved some Muslim Brotherhood members in 2004 and one of them died of torture, Engineer Akram Zohairi.

The Group of 14 Case No. 56 High State Security of the year 2003

Engineer Ahmed Shousha – 48 years of Cairo (currently detained on Al-Azhar case) – a businessman.

Engineer Ahmed Mahmoud – 51 years- Suez- power engineer

Engineer Tarek Sobhi 49 years- Cairo- a businessman

Engineer Ayman Abdul Ghani 39 years- Cairo- civil engineer – (currently detained on Al-Azhar case, the fourth time to be detained since 2003).

Engineer Abdul Magid Mashali 32 years-Cairo- QC engineer- was detained in 2006.

Engineer Amin Abdul Hamid 35 years- Sharqiya – chemist.

Dr. Mohamed Al Qadi 35 years- Cairo- a professor in Helwan University

Ibrahim Al Dib 36 years- Mansoura – accountant

Mohamed Nagm 36 years- Cairo- accountant

Abdellah Ibrahim 25 years- Sharqiya – accountant

Mostafa Ismail 25 years-Al Fayyum – pharmacist

Tarek Abdul Gawaad 23 years-Asyut – Marketing manager

Mohamed Saqr 34 years- Mansoura – a sales manager

Abdul Moneim Mahmoud 23 years- Alexandria – journalist

The Day of the Black Soldier

This was my experience with the State Security Service. It has been the same with other people, such as political detainees who were held without any legal basus. Some of these people died of torture, like Mossad Qotb who died of torture in the state security headquarters in Giza in 2002, and many undisclosed numbers of people faced death.

Torture hasn’t been confined to political prisoners only, to but suspects in criminal cases who were tortured at police stations. The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights noted in one of its reports 41 cases of torturing citizens inside police stations including 15 deaths that the organization is nearly certain were due to torture and abuse. This was in one report: torture in Egypt is a continuous policy and a method of a regime. We should expose them and publish the news of tortures everywhere.

I have a suggestion: that we show the torture cases to the Interior Ministry and the regime on 25 January, the Police Day, a day that honours all Egyptians, not only policemen. But the state security gangs of Habib Al-Adli co-opt that day and appropriates it to themselves and the country honours them although they are criminals. Let’s expose their true criminal nature on this day and call it “the Day of The Black Soldier”, and post on our web sites and weblogs the crimes committed by the Interior Ministry and its officers. Let’s stage a vigil against the black soldier on 25 January.