In Tora maximum-security prison (also known as Al-Aqrab) is a facility reserved for Egypt’s most dangerous criminals. Four men arrested at a protest are imprisoned there.
Three of the men are members of the 6 April Youth Movement and took part in a protest outside Minister of Interior Mohammed Ibrahim’s house on 29 March. The movement members surrounded the minister’s house and proceeded to throw ladies undergarments at the house, declaring that the Ministry of Interior is “a prostitute of all regimes”. The fourth man, though not a movement member, decided to join the protest as was passing by. 6 April claim that the protest was violently dispersed and the four men were arrested.
Since their arrest the men have been moved around different detention centres, reported Amnesty International. One place is the Central Security Forces encampment Al-Gabal Al-Ahmar that is not an official place of detention. The four men were eventually moved to Al-Aqrab on 6 April.
Mohamed Mostafa is 30 years old and a laboratory director for a national petroleum company. He is also a co-founder of 6 April Youth Movement. He has a wife and two young daughters.
DNE spoke to Mostafa’s wife, Rasha Salem, who had recently been allowed to visit her husband at Al-Aqrab. “Mostafa is psychologically not well. He is moody and is always tired. He is covered in mosquito bites and the conditions they are keeping him in are inhumane,” she said.
In the three weeks since his detention, Mostafa now faces the possibility of losing his job, said his wife. She added that he is no longer receiving a wage.
“How can his only crime be insulting the minister of interior?” she asked. “Everyone insults him and the president every day.” She added: “They are holding him over 23 pieces of underwear.” Salem added that the underwear is being used as evidence against the four men in court.
Zizou Abdu is 28 years old and is a history teacher in a private school. He is the coordinator for the 6 April Youth Movement in his local neighbourhood of Boulaq Al-Dakrour. He is also very active in supporting workers’ rights.
Abdu’s brother, Ibrahim Fahmy, said that he was able to visit his brother at Al-Aqrab on Monday. He was pleased to see that the conditions had become better for his brother. “They were kept in solitary confinement, only allowed to drink from the sink and the food given to them was inhumane. They are locked up with jihadists, terrorists and drug dealers.” He noted that the conditions had improved thanks to pressure applied to the authorities and the media coverage. Fahmy reported that a policeman told the detainees that they were being held under the preventative detention law in order to make an example of them.
“Abdu joined 6 April in 2009 and was a member of Kefaya in 2008. He teaches during the day and works on his political activism at night.”
Usually he does not tell their mother when Abdu is arrested but this time he has been gone for too long. “She does not speak or eat, she is always sleeping,” Fahmy explained.
Mamdouh Hassan, also known as Abu Adam, is 28 years old and a sales manager at a private company. Among the 6 April group Hassan is responsible for training and educating younger members of the group on non-violent and peaceful methods of protesting.
Speaking to DNE, Hassan’s father said: “6 April is always peaceful and never uses violence. It is the Muslim Brotherhood that has always used violence.”
Sayed Mounir is not a member of the movement but was arrested at the same time as the three 6 April members. Mounir’s mother told the 6 April Movement that her son went to see the protest at 11pm and never returned. She insisted that he does not participate in protests and she believes he was arrested arbitrarily.
Khaled El-Masry, media director for the youth movement reported that the Ministry of Interior has assured the group that the men are being treated well. El-Masry said that the conditions had improved, “but we believe they are still at high risk”. The group have lodged a formal complaint with the authorities and has contacted the human rights committee of the Shura Council and various NGOs.
He added that the four men will appear in court next Monday and the group are hopeful that they will be released. “They have no case to keep them detained any longer. They have nothing on them.”