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Egypt: Commemorating the Struggle Against Systematic Torture

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

As the world marked the International Day against Torture that falls on June 26, eyes were on Egypt where the struggle against citizen abuse has been particularly significant.

Over the past three decades, the regime of ousted president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak had effectively unleashed the security apparatuses – the police, state security and the intelligence service – granting them almost absolute powers to coerce citizens into submission. Not only were these apparatuses responsible for systematically torturing political dissidents and ordinary citizens on an almost daily basis, they also handled “terrorists” sent from the United States and Europe to be tortured for information under the notorious programmes of extraordinary rendition.

With a culture of “impunity’ prevailing during this era, most of these torture cases went unchecked, but not unnoticed. Several NGOs and human right organizations took it upon themselves to document and spread the word about these cases so they would not slip into oblivion.

One particular front in the fight against citizen abuse by the security apparatuses in Egypt is the Nadeem Center for Psychological Management & Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, which organized an anti-torture conference held at the Press Syndicate to mark the International Day against Torture and examine the widespread phenomenon before and after the Egyptian Revolution.

The conference, presided by Dr Aida Seif El Dawla of El Nadeem Center and journalist Mohamed Abdel Qodos provided slideshows about the history of torture in Egypt, video and live testimonies of torture victims, in addition to a brief theatrical performance about the abuses of the military police following the revolution.

It was noted that mainstream media was largely absent from the event but activists did not hold back in expressing their views about police brutality. Here are some reactions from Twitter:

Facebook pages calling for fresh protests in Egypt

Facebook pages calling for fresh protests in Egypt

@Heba El Kayal: Stories of current reality in Egypt of rampant police torture killing me. Makes me wonder if its ever going to be “fixable” #endtorture

@Nora Shalaby: Shahira talking about the systematic #torture endured by civilians at the hands of the Egyptian army #endtorture

@Leil Zahra Mortada: Families of detainees speaking now at #endtorture conference. Heartbreaking yet extremely rebellious. Those amazing women! #antitorture

@Andreas Fares: I kinda find it disturbing that we're joking around on Twitter and there's an #endtorture thing going around and also no media to cover it!

Whether torture is still systematic in Egypt remains to be seen, but the cases of torture that have surfaced during the last couple of months, whether torture committed at the hands of the police or the military, prompting Egyptians to call for a return to Tahrir Square to continue what they see as an “unfinished Revolution”.

The Facebook page behind the movement is entitled The Friday of Accountability and Open Sit ins on July 8 = The End. The location is Tahrir Square and “all of Egypt's squares.” And the aim of the call for fresh protests is:

قدمنا طلباتنا لمجلس الوزراء ، وأمام الحكومة والمجلس العسكرى الى يوم 8 يوليو ، يعنى شهر و 5 ايام لتنفيذ المطالب ، لو لم تنفذ المطالب نازلين للميادين للحساب والاعتصام المفتوح ، ومش هنمشى غير وكل حقوقنا واوامر الثورة تنفذ
We have submitted our demands to the Cabinet. The government and military council have up to July 8, which means one month and five days, to fulfill those demands. If those demands are not fulfilled, we are taking over the squares to call for accountability and open sit ins. And we will not leave until all our demands and the demands of the revolution are achieved.

Stay tuned for more coverage from Egypt.

This post is part of our special coverage Egypt Revolution 2011.

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