Saturday, March 12, 2016

Brutality in Sisi's Egypt

Here is some new information about Sisi's Egypt where according to the Cairo-based El-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, eight deaths in police custody – and almost 80 cases of torture took place last month. The group estimates that nearly 500 Egyptians died in police custody last year, and over 600 were tortured.


Even worse are the plainclothes agents of the Interior Ministry, who operate with near total impunity against perceived political dissidents. When these secret police take people away, Egyptians say they’ve gone “behind the sun.” No one knows where the detainees are, and anyone who looks for them too long will go blind.
Those Interior Ministry goons are the leading suspects in the torture and murder of Giulio Regeni, the Italian graduate student. He was found dead on a desert roadside, his body bearing cigarette burns and other signs of repeated torture, in early February. He’d been missing for 10 days.
Because he was from Europe, Regeni’s case got a lot of media attention. But it’s grimly ordinary for Egyptians to disappear and die under similar circumstances.
Egyptians don’t take these outrages lying down. Students at the American University in Cairo, where Regeni was a visiting scholar, hung banners in protest. Thousands more surrounded a police station to demand justice for Muhammad Sayed, a young man murdered by a police man last month.
Most famously, five years ago young protesters chose January 25 – designated by the government as Police Day – to start the enormous popular uprising that forced the octogenarian dictator Hosni Mubarak to step down. For a time after the 2011 revolt, the hated police disappeared from the streets, and neighborhood watches sprang up in towns and villages across Egypt.

But as noted by Chris Toensing, the editor of Middle East Report in a new article, the authoritarian state reasserted itself, so did the most appalling tactics of repression after Sisi came to power. Police torture, in particular, has become more frequent and more severe. El-Nadeem Center director Aida Seif al-Dawla calls it “a beast that took a break and came back in full force to take revenge.”
The United States has been backing the neo-Pharaohs of Egypt for decades, and was naturally opposed to the previous popularly elected government of Dr. Morsi, whose administration was brought down in a military coup. In the current toxic political discourses of the Republican party, it is sad to see that the presidential hopefuls have not learnt anything new. They want friends like Sisi who is spending US dollars to kill not only peace-loving Egyptians who are tired of his false promises to deliver economic miracle but also Giulio Regeni. 

Consider, for instance, Cruz’s answer in the latest Republican debate in Miami where he declared: “Let me give you an example of a Muslim for example, we ought to be standing with, President el-Sisi of Egypt, a president of a Muslim country who is targeting radical Islamic terrorism.”
What an absurd claim who wants to be president! Should we, Americans, stand with a ruthless dictator who has jailed thousands without trial, including journalists, wrecked the economy, and destroyed any hope of establishing democracy?  Mind that even all the Arab money seemingly is not helping to make the difference in Egypt's dead economy.
Secretary of State John Kerry says human rights concerns in Egypt are outweighed by Washington’s “huge interests” there – among them a counter-terrorism partnership, a strong state in a region roiled by civil war, the Suez Canal, and Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
These are the same arguments for “stability” that US administrations of both parties have made for decades. The Egyptian regime gets the message, and so do the Egyptian people: Washington doesn’t care, ultimately, if the police state is unleashed. The United States is in no position to lecture other countries about police brutality when it sets just the opposite precedence. 

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