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Conference discusses torture of activists

CAIRO: In the wake of reports of torture of political activists while in custody, the Bar Association, along with opposition and political forces, held a joint press conference Sunday to discuss their course of action in what they termed a crisis. “The assaults, the abductions and the physical abuse have revealed the true face of …


CAIRO: In the wake of reports of torture of political activists while in custody, the Bar Association, along with opposition and political forces, held a joint press conference Sunday to discuss their course of action in what they termed a crisis.

“The assaults, the abductions and the physical abuse have revealed the true face of the regime, says Mohammad Abdel-Qodous, Muslim Brotherhood and press syndicate member.

Mona Mina, a physician and activist, said that the state police were trying to “delay Mohamed Sharkawy’s examination “as much as possible in the hope that his bruises would be less by the time he is examined, and that the “doctor will not be able to indicate the date of the beatings and so his case would be without proof.

“Let alone the possibility that the sexual abuse might not be physically apparent, added Eid. “If they had used a thick object to abuse him, it might leave bruises. If not, we might not be able to prove sexual assault.

During the conference, Kefaya leader George Ishaq said that they received a statement saying that a doctor would examine Sharkawy Sunday afternoon in Tora Mazraa. “However, these are just words . It might not happen, commented Eid.

Ahmed El Droubi, a political activist and Sharkawy’s Tora Mazraa cellmate, told the press that he was shocked when he learned what had happened to his friend. Droubi was released three days ago from Tora Mazraa, where he was initially arrested with Sharkawy during protests in support of two prosecuted judges.

Droubi, who wore a pendant reading “Our freedom will not be snatched from us, said that even as they were arrested (for accusations such as illegal gathering, hampering traffic and insulting the president of the state) they were beaten all over their bodies. “I was blinded by the pain, but as I lay in the truck I heard the officers boasting about the types of torture they could apply us to . That was a mental torment.

During their detention, Droubi and Sharkawy were placed in a special cell for criminals accused of manslaughter. “However, I had hope, says Droubi, who spent more than 30 days in Tora Mazraa. “I had Mohammad with me. He was like a brother; strong, smiling and always encouraging the inmates.

“What has been happening to these activists is a message 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.

According to conference moderators, a letter of complaint was sent to the prosecutor general, along with several petitions to human rights groups and international organizations.

“We are currently collecting the names of all officers who took part in detaining and torturing 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.

On another level, law expert Amr Al Shalakani said that although the activists have rights and legally the perpetrators of the assault should be either fined or imprisoned, in reality the activists will not get treated fairly.

“It all depends on the public prosecutor. What he decides will settle the issue, says Al Shalakani. “If he decides to press charges, he will . However, he is a tool in the government’s hand.

“Unfortunately, the current attorney general is the worst in our history, adds Al Shalakani.

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