Coronavirus Adds Urgency to Ending Egypt’s Detention and Torture of Children…


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About This Series
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Date: May 10, 2020

01) Coronavirus Adds Urgency to Ending Egypt’s Detention and Torture of Children

“The United States has long justified its support for Egyptian security services as necessary for the security and stability of Egypt and the region. Yet the means by which the Egyptian security services operate include arbitrarily arresting and torturing some of the most vulnerable members of the population – children. Now, with the coronavirus sweeping through the Middle East and conditions for children in detention ripe for a public health crisis, the situation is more dire than ever. The United States must end support to security services that disappear and torture children, and should stand up and press Egypt to end widespread abuses of detainees’ rights and the routine use of detention against children.

The case of a 17-year-old detainee named Wesam illustrates the abuses. For three frantic days in late 2017, Wesam’s family and friends had no idea where he was. Eventually they learned he had been arrested on his way to a protest. In his first days of detention, he was given only the soldiers’ and guards’ leftovers to eat, and he was interrogated for hours on end without being allowed to see a lawyer. He spent the next five months in a crowded cell at a Cairo police station that measured 9 x 9 feet. There were never fewer than 15 detainees, some of them adults, crammed in with him. The cell was so packed that inmates “slept on a shift schedule: a group of us sleeps for six hours, and another group wakes up,” he told us.

As of April 2020, Wesam is still under investigation for alleged membership in the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement the government outlawed as a “terrorist” organization and recently blamed for spreading the coronavirus. He is required to check in at a police station every day.

But he is one of the lucky ones. Egyptian security services have disappeared other children for up to 15 months and tortured them. In our work with Human Rights Watch and the U.S.-based rights organization Belady: An Island for Humanity, we recently reported on children detained for political reasons in Egypt. Like Wesam, most were held with adults in overcrowded, poorly ventilated cells, and denied adequate food and medical care. Many were also tortured.

Consider the case of Abdullah, who was only 12 when he was disappeared on December 31, 2017, a few months after his older brother joined a group that claims affiliation with the Islamic State (ISIS). For the first six months, Abdullah was held in several detention centers, where he was shocked with electricity, waterboarded, suspended by his right hand, and forced to lie on a burning hot metal bed frame. For the next 100 days, he was held in solitary confinement and denied adequate food, family visits, medical care, and the chance to bathe. After a period of slightly improved treatment, a police officer at the station where he was being held promised in January 2019 to return him to his family. However, when his older sister arrived the next day to collect him, officers denied knowledge of his whereabouts. His family has not seen him since.

Or consider what happened to Hamza, who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence. He was 14 when forces from the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency disappeared him in 2016 for allegedly taking part in a demonstration. For two days, officers shocked Hamza with electricity on his genitals, head, and tongue. On the third day, they suspended him from behind by his arms, which dislocated both his shoulders. He was left in an unheated corridor for three more days, in winter, then taken to an underground cell. On Hamza’s 15th birthday, a guard overheard him speaking to another prisoner, which was prohibited, and forced the boy to stand on tiptoe after placing sharp nails under his heels. “He hates his birthday now, he does not want to celebrate it again,” a relative told us.

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to get the United States to press Egypt to stop detaining and torturing children.”

Ugly reality…

…The United States government/elite only care about children and young people, when they personally have something to gain from it…

…And, yes…it can be egotistical gains…and financial gains…but it’s typically power greed gains…and gains in satisfaction, by way of violating people they claim to be “morally offensive”…or “socially corrupting”.

They don’t care about propping up, and supporting these types of ruthless abuses against children and youth, when it suits their own goals…and nobody else is seeing it happen, or connecting them to it.

So many U.S. politicians, and other powerful profiteers, are flat out bastards.

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