“The government also has deployed uniformed and plainclothes security officers in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities in and around main streets and squares, randomly stopping passersby, searching and questioning people, and forcing them to show the contents of their mobile phones and social media accounts.”
Security forces detained Lotfy Ibrahim, a young construction worker, as he left a mosque near his home on the Nile Delta in the spring of 2015. When his family finally saw him again nearly three months later, he was in jail, looking badly brutalized. “He rolled his sleeves down so we couldn’t see the signs of torture,” said Ibrahim’s mother, Tahany. “But I saw burns on his arm. His face was pale, and his hair was shaved off.” Ibrahim, then 20, was eventually tried on charges of murdering three military academy students in a roadside bombing. He swore his innocence. His family said his lawyer had proof in the shape of a confession by the real perpetrators. But the lawyer was arrested and the new evidence was ignored by the authorities, the family said. Reuters didn’t see the confession. In early 2016, almost a year after Ibrahim’s arrest, a military court found him guilty and sentenced him to death. From his prison cell, he wrote a letter to his family. It contained a message to the father of one of the murdered cadets. “I don’t have your son’s blood on my hands and everyone knows that,” Ibrahim said. “Please pray for me, I forgive you.” When he put down his pen he was led away to the gallows, Ibrahim’s mother said. He was hanged in January 2018, a few months after his lawyer’s arrest. Egyptian courts have sentenced some 3,000 people to death since 2014, when President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi
The children of high-profile Egyptian Islamists detained in the same prison as former President Mohammed Mursi before his sudden death last week say they fear for their parents’ health. Mohammed Morsi, 67, died after collapsing during a court appearance at Cairo’s Tora prison complex, where he was moved after army chief-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew him in 2013 and cracked down on the Brotherhood and its supporters. Other senior Brotherhood members are jailed in Tora’s maximum-security “Scorpion” wing, often in solitary confinement. The families of four detainees, all at Tora, said their relatives were being held under extremely poor conditions, deprived of adequate healthcare. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the families’ assertions about prison conditions and the state of health of their relatives. An interior ministry spokesman and Egypt’s State Information Service, which handles relations with the foreign media, did not respond to several calls and messages seeking comment about the families’ accounts, including accusations that some of their relatives needed surgery for abuse suffered in detention. Egyptian officials have previously denied mistreating prisoners or neglecting their health. here Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a 68-year-old Islamist former presidential candidate who ran for election against Mursi in 2012, is held at Tora’s Al Mazra wing. Arrested in February 2018, he is held in pre-trial detention over alleged connections with the now-banned Brotherhood. He denies the charges, according to his son Ahmed. Aboul Fotouh has diabetes, hypertension, heart and respiration problems which require him to sleep with an oxygen machine that
Mohammed Morsi’s son Ahmed said: “He has been placed behind glass cage (during trials). No one can hear him or know what is happening to him. He hasn’t received any visits for a months or nearly a year. He complained before that he doesn’t get his medicine. This is premediated murder. This is slow death.”
Egyptian security forces have committed widespread abuses against civilians in restive northern Sinai peninsula, some of which amount to war crimes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Tuesday, urging other nations to halt military assistance. Egypt’s ground and air forces have been fighting Islamist insurgents in Sinai for years, in a conflict fuelled by wider Middle East dynamics and a history of state neglect and oppression of the poor and isolated region. The report accused security forces of arbitrary arrests including children, disappearances, torture, extrajudicial killings, collective punishment and forced evictions. While there was no immediate reaction from the Egyptian government, it has in the past responded to accusations of rights abuses by saying strong security measures were needed to curb Islamic State and other jihadists on its soil. New York-based HRW said its 134-page report was researched from 2016-2018 and based on interviews with 54 North Sinai residents and former government and military officials, as well as official statements and satellite images. The watchdog documented what it said were 50 arbitrary arrests of residents, including 39 cases where the detainee was held incommunicado at an undisclosed location. Some died in custody because of ill-treatment and lack of medical care, HRW said, citing former detainees. Reuters was unable to independently confirm its findings. The report also documented 14 cases of extrajudicial killing of detainees, using methods that match similar cases reported in a Reuters investigation published in April. Spokesmen for the military and for Egypt’s State Information Service, which liaises
In a switch from the past, the military has begun arming Bedouin tribesmen like Abu-Sefira and having them patrol in operations against the IS militants deep in the peninsula’s interior, where their local knowledge gives them an advantage, Abu-Sefira and other Bedouin say.
“We have to do it, it’s our duty to make the people feel safe from the terrorists who were killing us,” Ibrahim Abu-Sefira said.
An Egyptian court on Saturday issued death sentences for 75 people, including prominent Islamist leaders, and jailed more than 600 others over a 2013 sit-in which ended with the killing of hundreds of protesters by security forces. Critics say the erosion of freedoms and silencing of political opponents is the worst Egypt has seen in its modern history.