A report released by Human Rights Watch documents how Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's government effectively condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officers who are accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted.
HRW describes torture as "an endemic problem in Egypt." According to HRW, ending police abuse—and the cycle of impunity for those crimes—is a driving element behind the massive popular demonstrations in Egypt this past week. Snip from introduction:
'Work on Him Until He Confesses': Impunity for Torture in Egypt," documents how President Hosni Mubarak's government implicitly condones police abuse by failing to ensure that law enforcement officials accused of torture are investigated and criminally prosecuted, leaving victims without a remedy.
"Egyptians deserve a clean break from the incredibly entrenched practice of torture," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. "The Egyptian government's foul record on this issue is a huge part of what is still bringing crowds onto the streets today."
The case of Khaled Said, a 28-year-old man beaten to death by two undercover police officers on an Alexandria street in June, dominated headlines and set off demonstrations across the country. The local prosecutor initially closed an investigation and ordered Said's burial, but escalating public protests prompted the Public Prosecutor to reopen the investigation and refer it to court. "We Are All Khaled Said" is the name of the Facebook group that helped initiate the mass demonstrations on January 25, 2011.
[ Warning: disturbing content. The report contains graphic descriptions of torture. ]
[Video Link] Waseem Wagdi, an Egyptian living in London talks about recent events in Egypt during a protest outside the Egyptian Embassy, London.
A reminder of online resources for Boing Boing readers who are following the significant and fast-moving events in Egypt today. I'm keeping several browser tabs open for these three liveblogs: The Guardian, Al Jazeera English, and New York Times.
Here are three helpful Twitter lists, some of which focus on people reporting on the ground in Egypt, others also include smart analytical voices currently based elsewhere: New York Times, NPR, and Washington Post.
"Egypt's Cabinet has just submitted its resignation, and a new Prime Minister has been appointed. As Egypt's Minister of Communications and Information Technology since 2004, you are now most likely heading back to private life. As a friend, I write to urge you to take one final action before you walk out the door of your Ministry: Give the order to reconnect Egypt to the global Internet, and to drop all remaining blocks on wireless networks."—Andrew McLaughlin, in the Huffington Post. You can follow him on Twitter. (via Anil Dash)
Marilyn Terrell of National Geographicpoints us to the photo above making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook today, and explains:
Citizens linking arms in front of the Egyptian Museum to prevent looters from entering. I found this photo on Twitter, posted by @theplayethic, who also tweeted, "Power memes in #Egypt. Reports of soldiers roaming damaged Cairo museum, armed criminals in suburbs."
Margaret Maitland, an Egyptology student at Oxford University, examines Al Jazeera video to assess what has been damaged during rioting at the Cairo Museum. She thinks the damaged objects include items from Tutankahmun's tomb.
Would-be looters broke into Cairo's famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by soldiers, Egypt's antiquities chief [Zahi Hawass] said Saturday.
Photo: A protester kisses a police officer during a demonstration in Cairo January 28, 2011. Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo on Friday in a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to Mubarak's three-decade rule. (REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
This amazing photograph by Lefteris Pitarakis for AP is making the Twitter/Facebook/blog rounds today:
An Egyptian anti-government activist kisses a riot police officer following clashes in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters poured into the streets of Egypt Friday, stoning and confronting police who fired back with rubber bullets and tear gas in the most violent and chaotic scenes yet in the challenge to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
US State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks, and analyzed today in the New York Times, show how the Obama administration avoided "public confrontations" with Hosni Mubarak over issues human rights.
Another cable, dated March 2009, offered a pessimistic analysis of the prospects for the "April 6 Movement," a Facebook-based group of mostly young Egyptians that has received wide attention for its lively political debate and helped mobilize the protests that have swept Egypt in the last two days. Leaders of the group had been jailed and tortured by the police. There were also signs of internal divisions between secular and Islamist factions, it said.
The United States has defended bloggers with little success. When Ambassador Scobey raised several arrests with the interior minister, he replied that Egypt did not infringe on freedom of the press, but that it must respond when "people are offended by blogs." An aide to the minister told the ambassador that The New York Times, which has reported on the treatment of bloggers in Egypt, was "exaggerating the blogger issue," according to the cable.
American diplomats also cast a wide net to gather information on police brutality, the cables show. Through contacts with human rights lawyers, the embassy follows numerous cases, and raised some with the Interior Ministry. Among the most harrowing, according to a cable, was the treatment of several members of a Hezbollah cell detained by the police in late 2008.
Lawyers representing the men said they were subjected to electric shocks and sleep deprivation, which reduced them to a "zombie state." They said the torture was more severe than what they normally witnessed.
(PHOTO: A protester displays a message on a placard of the Egyptian flag during a demonstration outside the press syndicate in central Cairo January 27, 2011. Demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, have raged since Tuesday in several Egyptian cities, with the biggest clashes in Cairo and Suez. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis)
As I publish this blog post, we're just a few hours away from the planned start time of mass protests in Egypt, possibly the largest yet in a week of historically large gatherings calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down from some 30 years in power. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic tells Boing Boing,
A Twitter follower stepped up to translate excerpts from the
Egyptian protest plan that's been floating around (the one that said
don't use Twitter or Facebook). We're only publishing excerpts -- i.e.
this is more general information and demands, not tactical stuff -- but
they are amazing.