Category Archives: The Egyptian coup

President Morsi: UK Parliament Detention Review Panel

The Detention Review Panel (DRP) issued a report and made the following findings:

  • Dr Morsi is no ordinary prisoner. He was the elected President of Egypt. We considered his detention in the context the treatment of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom & Justice Party in Egypt. Every independent report that was considered, including reports from the US State Department and UK Home Office made reference to the particularly harsh treatment currently faced by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom & Justice Party. The Egyptian government has not given us any cause to think that Dr Morsi is being treated any better.
  • The Tora prison complex, also known as the Scorpion Prison, has been very harshly condemned for its inability to treat prisoners in accordance with both Egyptian and international law.
  • The DRP finds that the allegations made by Dr Morsi, directly in his own words, in his statement to the Court in November 2017, and the allegations made by Abdullah Morsi, appear to be consistent with the allegations recorded by the United Nations, the United States’ State Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, news reports and other human rights organisations about the treatment of prisoners in Egypt.
  • Our findings are that the allegations made by Dr Morsi, on a balance of probabilities, are likely to be true. They are consistent with the findings of the general treatment of prisoners, in particular political prisoners, in Egypt.
  • We accept in full the finding of Dr Paul Williams. We find that Mohammed Morsi is receiving inadequate medical care, particularly inadequate management of his diabetes and inadequate management of his liver disease. We accept the opinion that the consequence of this inadequate care is likely to be rapid deterioration of his long-term conditions, which is likely to lead to premature death.
  • The DRP finds that on a balance of probabilities the detention of President Morsi is below the standard expected by international standards for prisoners, and would constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. We also find that the detention could meet the threshold for torture in accordance Egyptian and International law.
  • The DRP finds that culpability for torture rests not only with the direct perpetrators but those who are responsible for or acquiesce in it.  We find that the conditions of Dr Morsi’s detention would be of such continuing interest to the whole chain of command that the current President could, in principle, be responsible for the crime of torture, which is a crime of universal jurisdiction.
  • We fear that if Dr Morsi is not provided with urgent medical assistance, the damage to his health may be permanent and possibly terminal. The failure to provide Dr Morsi with adequate medical treatment is a breach of Egyptian Law and the Mandela Rules.
  • The panel are deeply concerned about the conditions and detention of Dr Morsi and invite the Egyptian government to allow the DRP, or any other reputable independent body, to conduct a visit.

The pillage of Egypt by Sisi and Britain Inc.

Two years ago I wrote about the pillage of Egypt by Britain aided and abetted by Sisi. Amelia Smith has a new article on the subject, which begins:

In 2011 residents of the fishing town of Idku close to Egypt’s northern city of Alexandria gathered to oppose British Petroleum’s (BP) plans to pump gas onshore where they would process it for onwards shipment. There were many parts of the project which angered activists including the proposition that the gas plant would be built on Idku’s sandy strip of beach.

Local farmers and fishermen already had to contend with sewage canals, industrial wave breakers which limited their access to fishing areas, and an existing Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export plant. Now BP’s facility would further endanger their livelihood and likely kill both the fish and the agriculture they were heavily dependent on.

Popular assemblies formed on the streets and locals vented their anger about the project. They began to document other environmental disasters, drawing comparisons with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and warning people that the same could happen to them.

Their efforts paid off – after 18 months of continuous delays BP announced they were withdrawing. Activists packed up their banners and the fishermen concentrated once again on tending to their boats. Empowered by the 2011 uprising, the town of Idku declared victory.

In the two years that followed, Mohammed Morsi was voted into government, removed by a military coup and replaced by the former head of military intelligence, now President Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi. Between the coup and Sisi’s ascension to power a new law was introduced, the Protest Law, which seriously curbed citizens’ right to demonstrate, enforcing a fine of up to EGP 30,000 ($1,700) and lengthy prison sentences if demonstrators failed to notify authorities before a protest.

Not long after it was introduced BP’s plans slipped back onto the agenda. On a recent visit to Egypt the UK’s trade envoy to the country included Idku on his list of places to visit.

Perhaps nothing sums up the nature of current politics in Egypt better than the story of Idku and BP: investments made by multinationals are protected by the Egyptian government, and encouraged by the British. The saddest part of it all is that the people of Idku, much like the rest of Egypt, will see very little, if anything, of the benefits of these deals. Read full article

The Guardian view on Egyptian democracy: it would be a good idea

July 3rd, 2013 coup d’état announcement by Sisi prior to announcement by Obama and John Kerry on behalf of the US of the Egyptian ‘Democratic Roadmap’

The Guardian Editor writes: Egypt is at present a sham democracy. Real power resides with the army, which has lurked in the shadows but overseen an often brutal crackdown on opponents since 2013. The military came to power by toppling the Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, and killing more than 800 protesters in Cairo’s Rabaa Square. Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump lavishes praise on Mr Sisi’s government. Thankfully the US State Department has fingered its “unlawful killings and torture”. Last week Egyptian authorities executed five inmates – four of whom had links with the Muslim Brotherhood – despite credible claims of them having unfair trials. This looks like a warning to rivals that Egyptian politics is deadly rather than deadly serious.

Human Rights watch writes: Public criticism of the government remained effectively banned in Egypt in 2016. Police arrested scores of people in connection with protests, many preemptively. Authorities ordered travel bans and asset freezes against prominent human rights organizations and their directors and brought criminal charges against the head of the Press Syndicate and the country’s top anti-corruption official. Parliament proposed a new law regulating nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that would effectively end independent human rights work in the country.

Members of the security forces, particularly the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency, continued to routinely torture detainees and forcibly disappeared hundreds of people with little or no accountability for violations of the law. The disappearance, torture, and death of Italian doctoral researcher Giulio Regeni, probably at the hands of security services, highlighted these abuses and caused a diplomatic rift between Egypt and Italy.

Investigations by National Security officers, often without any hard evidence, formed the basis of many of the 7,400 or more military trials of civilians brought since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree widening the scope of military jurisdiction in 2014.

Conditions in detention remained harsh. The quasi-official National Council for Human Rights continued to report that prisons and other detention facilities were severely overcrowded. Conditions were particularly harsh in Cairo’s Scorpion Prison, where inmates, most of them political prisoners, suffered abuses at the hands of Interior Ministry officers, including beatings, force feedings, deprivation of contact with relatives and lawyers, and interference in medical care that may have contributed to at least six deaths in 2015.

 

President Morsi demands medical attention during court appearance

Kidnapped Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi called on authorities to give him access to medical care during a court appearance on Friday.

Morsi, who has been in jail since he was overthrown in a coup in 2013, demanded that he be admitted to a private hospital at his expense to do the necessary medical examinations, reported Arabic media.

The court reportedly refused his request because Morsi had previously refused to sign the prison doctor’s medical report, an allegation Morsi challenged as false.

“My health condition is in critical condition and deteriorating day after day,” Morsi said in court. “I demand a medical examination at my own expense and under the supervision of specialised doctors. I want to be admitted immediately a private hospital,” Morsi added.

Political prisoners in Egypt are really all convicted burglars

It remarkable how all European governments are unwilling to condemn Sisi, and how even Emily Thornberry dodged the question posed to her about him in an interview with David Hearst and Peter Oborne, who asked: “Irrespective of his record in office, Mohammed Morsi is Egypt’s first democratically elected president and he is languishing in prison along with over 40,000 other political prisoners. Egypt appears to be under absolutely no pressure about any of this. Don’t you as a democratically elected politician feel some responsibility to him?

Thornberry replies: I hear what you saying. I have been focusing more on the potential changes in the law, introducing 15 year sentences for being homosexual in Egypt. When I have been thinking about Egypt I have been concerned about those sort of changes and the way [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-] Sisi is tightening his grip on Egypt and the way that Egypt is changing and not necessarily for the better. The way in which the British government seem to be intensely relaxed about Sisi and where he is taking the country – it brings you back to my central theme that foreign policy should be about more than contracts.

Thornberry wants to see a recognition of Palestine, which is fair enough. However, even if Palestine is recognised by a British Labour government, it is unlikely to lead to a real state. On the other hand, democracy in the largest Arab country by far would lead to a seriously new reality in the Middle East. Perhaps that’s what she wants to avoid. But, perhaps that’s being too unkind: clearly, being antagonistic towards Sisi, Israel’s policeman, in the light of pushing for more Palestinian rights and a relaxation of the siege of Gaza, requires biting one’s tongue on the Sisi question.

Mahdi Akef: lived in the open, buried in secret

Drawing source: Arabi 21 ‘A Prisoner across all Ages’

Under the leadership of Muhammad Mahdi Akef, in 2004, the Muslim Brotherhood published the first truly comprehensive reform programme for Egypt and, in 2005, Akef led the Muslim Brotherhood to its largest electoral victory prior to the 2011 Revolution.

Following the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in the July 2013 coup, he was arrested at the advanced age of 85 years and held, like many of Egypt’s 40,000 political prisoners, under absolutely brutal conditions. According to his family, he was diagnosed with cancer last year, and despite declining health, was nevertheless held incommunicado in Junta prisons. Despite the fact that he was acquitted of all (the trumped up) charges against him in January 2016, yet continued to be detained, for another 20 months, away from his family, as his health declined visibly, until his death.

Akef was widely celebrated for refusing to be nominated for a second term as the Brotherhood’s guide, vacating the post in 2010 after the election of Muhammad Badie. He remained one of the few leadership figures who appealed to a wide cross-section of Muslims. His repeated court appearances over the past four years, white-haired, and wrapped in a white blanket posed a strange contrast with the heavy security around him. Needless to say, his family were denied a public funeral by Sisi, who also forbade the “absentee prayer” from being said in mosques in his honour. As Palestinian scholar, Kamal Khateeb, tells us: when Akef fought alongside Palestinians for their rights in 1948, his jailer was still only a ‘black spot on his father’s back’.

Over the course of these four years not a single Western government issued a statement opposing his incarceration or appealing for his release. These governments continue to support the tyranny of Sisi despite its ferocious stench, for profit. The murder even of their own citizens means little to them beside the draw of the filthy lucre. Yet their politicians and intellectuals continue to bore the world with their insistence on ‘Western values’…

Savage Egypt: a tightly wound coil waiting to “spring”

Since July 2013, when Egypt’s military overthrew the country’s first freely elected president, torture has returned as the calling card of the security services, and the lack of punishment for its routine practice has helped define the authoritarianism of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s administration.

Al-Sisi’s pursuit of political stability at any cost has granted the country’s chief domestic security institution, the Interior Ministry, a free hand, perpetuating the same abuses that fueled the 2011 uprising.

The Interior Ministry’s regular police and its National Security Agency have used widespread arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and torture against perceived dissidents, many of them alleged members or sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Sisi’s primary political opposition. The Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), an independent human rights group, has identified 30 people who died from torture while being held in police stations and other Interior Ministry detention sites between August 2013 and December 2015. In 2016, the ECRF reported that its lawyers received 830 torture complaints, and that another 14 people had died from torture in custody.

HRW REPORT

The US and European nations now face a quandary, either to continue backing Sisi’s murderous rule and become more and more associated with it as time goes on (as if they aren’t already), or insist that the country reforms, in which case a suppressed rage in the country will duly spring up to cause widespread chaos. This will happen anyway – eventually. Reconciliation will not be possible.

Egypt blocks Algerian humanitarian-aid convoy into Gaza

Egyptian authorities had stopped an Algerian humanitarian-aid convoy from crossing into the Gaza Strip from Sinai, a Palestinian NGO said Friday.”Egypt’s decision to block the entry of the aid convoy is very unfortunate and does not reflect the positive spirit that has recently characterized Gaza-Egypt relations,” the National Committee for Breaking the Siege of Gaza said in a press statement.

On Friday, Egypt re-closed its border with the Gaza Strip after having opened it to Palestinian pilgrims for the last four days for their travel to Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina, Gaza’s border authority said.

Blockaded by Israel by air, land and sea since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh — the Rafah crossing — is controlled by Egypt, which has kept it tightly sealed for the most part since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, in a 2013 military coup

Remember Raba’a al-‘Adawiyya and Nahda

Remember how on 14 August 2013, Egyptian security forces raided two camps of protesters in Cairo: one at al-Nahda Square and a larger one at Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.

On November 14, FMA head Dr. Hisham Abdelhamid held a press conference and announced that the final death-toll for Rab’a was 627, including 377 bodies autopsied at the official morgue, 167 bodies identified in Iman Mosque Rab’a Square and another 83 bodies that were taken to different hospitals around Cairo. The quasi-official National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) released a report on the Rab’a dispersal in March 2014, in which it cited the figure of 624 civilians killed.

These figures, though, ignore compelling evidence of additional uncounted bodies in morgues and hospitals across Cairo documented by Human Rights Watch researchers and Egyptian human rights lawyers on August 14 and in the days immediately following the Rab’a dispersal. Based on an extensive review of evidence, which compared death lists put out both by the official FMA and quasi-official NCHR and human rights lawyers and other survivors, Human Rights Watch documented 817 deaths in the Rab’a dispersal alone. Human Rights Watch also reviewed evidence of a possible 246 additional deaths, documented by survivors and civil society groups. This evidence, in addition to credible reports of additional bodies taken directly to hospitals and morgues without accurate record or known identity, and individuals still missing from Rab’a, it is likely that over 1,000 protesters were killed in Rab’a alone.

Of course this count omits the bodies burned to cinders with flamethrowers and the many dead picked up by bulldozer sweeps and dumped in landfill on army land on the Suez road.

Normalising extra-judicial killings of opposition youth in Egypt

The Egyptian Ministry of Interior Ministry is no longer interested in covering up extra-judicial killings in firefight scenarios as has been the case up until now. The killings in cold blood are now blatant and the Egyptian government officials involved are unapologetic.

The first such incident involved the discovery of student Tharwat Sameh last Monday on a desert road near Cairo whose body clearly displayed the ugly imprints of torture, a mere two days after his arrest in October 6 City. The second involved the simple announcement by the Interior Minister of the “liquidation” of Omar Abdel Baki, charged according to state newspapers for demonstrating and incitement to violence.

These incidents represent an unprecedented escalation in the cases of physical liquidation of dissidents which have totalled 222 since January. The gross affront to any form of decency by the Egyptian junta has grown apace since the events surrounding the torture and summary execution of Italian student Giulio Regeni attracted little comment or response from the EU and the US, who continue to blindly back the junta. This impunity is the direct cause of the new hellish environment. 

But enough is enough and the call by lawyer Haytham Abu Khalil to increase external pressure on the Egyptian Junta for its crimes against humanity comes at a crucial juncture.