Monday, February 11, 2013

Myth of democratic transition in Egypt

Comrade Reem:  "
Instead, an unreconstructed Ministry of Interior continues to display the same conduct toward protest under Morsi as under Mubarak, reflecting entirely securitized understandings of solutions, and extortionate use of force. On the first anniversary of the mid-November 2011 protests of Mohamed Mahmoud Street, security police used teargas and birdshot pellets at close range, wounding hundreds and claiming the life of April 6 movement activist Gaber Salah, commonly known as Jika. On 25 January 2013, the same occurred across twelve of Egypt’s governorates, claiming five lives in Suez alone and wounding nearly 400 nationwide. When families in Port Said reacted angrily at the death sentences handed out to civilian defendants and not to security officials, Morsi simply imposed a curfew of thirty days on three cities, warning that he “would do more” – presumably impose wider emergency law – if not obeyed.
A report issued by Egyptian rights activists in the wake of these protests noted that 225 people had been detained from around Tahrir Square alone since the revolution’s second anniversary, and that this had included minors “subject to torture and days-long incarceration at Central Security Forces (CSF) training camps.” Another report, released by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in January 2013, documented eleven deaths and ten cases of torture inside Egyptian police stations during Morsi’s presidency, affirming that police torture was “still systematic, just as it was under the Mubarak regime.” Another, by Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, documented cases of detention and torture perpetrated daily throughout the “first 100 days” of Morsi’s presidency, in which he had promised meaningful change in the security sector and elsewhere.
Last year, it took Morsi all of his 100 days to reach the decision to release 570 civilians who had been thrown in prison after military trials since 2011. Almost 12,000 Egyptians were tried in military courts under the rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and over 8,000 were handed sentences. Most were believed to be among the poorest of Egypt’s citizens, unable to assure themselves legal representation. Bringing an end to military trials of civilians had been one of the main themes of revolutionary demands for justice during the rule of the military council. Morsi’s flourish of amnesty was too little too late for many revolutionary activists, after many victims had perished in jail, or been permanently scarred by their experience.
Mubarak’s Ministry of Interior was notorious for covering up its crimes and blaming its victims: Orwellian state television regularly smeared political opposition with charges of foreign conspiracy, thuggery, and vandalism, while contrasting them with other, unspecified “honorable citizens.” Meanwhile, security officials were routinely able to avoid justice. Under Mubarak, the death of Khalid Said was blamed on his own drug use rather than police beatings seen by eyewitnesses. The officers later charged with his murder were granted a retrial, on the same day that the officer accused of killing Salafist activist Sayed Bilal in early 2011 was acquitted. Under Morsi, as police repressed protests during the constitutional crisis in late 2012, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim commended his police force and their sacrifices, noting that his men had placed citizens’ safety before their own. Most excruciating of all was the testimony of Hamada Saber, the citizen seen beaten by police forces on live television 1 February, who later claimed he had been attacked by protesters, and thanked the police for helping him get away. He was then publicly contradicted by his daughter Randa, and ultimately changed his testimony. She revealed that her father’s denial had come under severe pressure and threats from officers in the police hospital where he was being treated, and that her family had been plied with gifts of sugar, oil and tea in order to acquiesce in this. Saber’s denial evoked Mubarak-era practices in which torture was used to intimidate and coerce victims into silence, whether they were dissidents, criminal suspects, or citizens abused simply to fulfill confession quotas."