Egypt's disappeared

Amnesty International’s new report tells a perfectly horrid story of Egypt’s disappeared.

Hoards of people who have been abducted, tortured and caused to forcibly disappear by Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA).

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The moves are supposedly being made in an effort to curb and intimidate opponents of the government and wipe out peaceful dissent. According to the Amnesty International report published today, there has been an unprecedented spike in enforced disappearances since early 2015.

Egypt's disappeared

Amnesty’s report titled; Egypt: ‘Officially, you do not exist’: Disappeared and tortured in the name of counter-terrorism reveals a trend which has seen hundreds of students, political activists, and protesters, including children as young as 14, vanish without a trace at the hands of the state.

Local NGOs put the number of people who vanish daily (usually when heavily armed security forces led by NSA officers storm their homes) at an average of three to four people.

“Enforced disappearance has become a key instrument of state policy in Egypt. Anyone who dares to speak out is at risk, with counter-terrorism being used as an excuse to abduct, interrogate and torture people who challenge the authorities.”

Many of Egypt’s disappeared are alleged to have been held for months and often kept blindfolded and handcuffed for the entire period.

One particular horror story in the report features the case of 14-year-old Mazen Mohamed Abdallah, who was taken from his home in the Nasser City district of Cairo by NSA agents on 30 September and accused of being a member of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and participating in unauthorized protests.

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Mazen had allegedly denied the charges, leading to his interrogators repeatedly raping him with a wooden stick in order to force him to “memorise” a false confession, applying electric shocks to his genitals and other parts of his body, and threatening to arrest his parents if he retracted the confession.

The boy had only retracted the confession when questioned by a prosecutor but was still charged and only released from custody on 31 January to await trial.

The report also records that the group found “clear similarities” between the injuries of Italian student Giulio Regeni, the 28-year-old Cambridge University PhD student who was found dead on a roadside on the outskirts of Cairo in February and those of some Egypt’s disappeared who had died in custody.

Egypt's disappeared

Amnesty International’s report on Egypt’s disappeared is a serious accusation of Egypt’s security agencies who should be protecting citizens but are apparently torturing them and also a smear on the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Amnesty prescribes that;

“President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must order all state security agencies to stop enforced disappearances, torture and other forms of ill-treatment and make clear that anyone who orders, commits or is complicit in such violations will be brought to justice.”

Egypt’s government has however denied that it uses enforced disappearances and torture. Interior Minister Magdy Abdul Ghaffar has insisted the security services operate within a framework established by Egyptian law.