إخفاء الحقوقية هدى عبد المنعم Disappeared human rights lawyer Hoda

 IMPORTANT: A statement from the family of Egyptian human right advocate Hoda Abdelmoniem

After 21 days of enforced disappearance by the Egyptian authorities, our family was surprised to find out yesterday, November 21, that Hoda Abdelmonem appeared in the state security prosecution office in cairo. This happened without informing the family or lawyers.

As soon as the family knew, members of the family alongside our lawyers went to the prosecution office. It was a few hours until the lawyers were able to attend the interrogations with her. After four hours of interrogations, Hoda's daughters were able to see her At 2:30 am and were shocked to find that Hoda, the 60-year old mother and grandmother, was in a dire health condition with clear signs of loss weight, psychological trauma, severe signs of instability and shock. She couldn't give a reason for her condition to her family members.

The appearance of our mother, the former member of the National Council for Human Rights, after weeks of disappearance makes us very worried especially with her remaining in detention. Hoda Abdelmonem is a public figure with well known character, her activities are all practiced in public and her work and home addresses are known to the authorities.
We can see no reason to first abduct and hide her, then keep her in detention but as a sense of revenge by the Egyptian authorities because of her activism and advocacy.
The Ministry of Interior has the full responsibility for her safety and wellbeing.

The Family of Hoda Abdelmonem
22 Novemebr 2018

#WhereisHoda #FreeHoda


Rabaa: The massacre that ended the Arab Spring

This article appeared originally on Middle East Eye:

We are publishing this as a 101 guide for those who don't know all about the massacres and the military coup. Most of the English articles we come across are reductive, biased, or and inaccurate but this article was closer to the truth and to what we have experienced and what our friends and family members have seen. 

Five years ago, Egypt witnessed the Rabaa massacre, often described as the end of the Arab Spring.
On 14 August, 2013, Egyptian security forces conducted a brutal operation to clear thousands of protesters, killing at least 1,000.
Many call it the worst mass killing of demonstrators in modern history, with its death toll surpassing the Tiananmen Square massacre in China in 1989 and the Andijan massacre in Uzbekistan in 2005.

What led to Rabaa?

On 30 June 2012, in the aftermath of the pro-democracy 2011 Egyptian revolution, Mohamed Morsi, the chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party and high-ranking Muslim Brotherhood member, became the first freely-elected civilian president in Egypt’s modern history.
Morsi’s tenure was short-lived, however. Exactly a year after his election victory, Morsi's opponents staged nationwide protests, blaming him and his party for the deteriorating economic and political situation the country was in.
The protests were backed by the army, and on 3 July, 2013 Morsi was deposed by a military coup by his defence minister, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is now president.
In response, Morsi's supporters and critics of the coup, including Muslim Brotherhood members and pro-democracy civilians, staged nationwide protests demanding he be reinstated and a return to democracy.
The largest sit-in was held in Rabaa al-Adaweya Square in the northern Cairo district of Nasr City. Some 85,000 protesters camped there for six weeks until they were violently dispersed, in what became known as the Rabaa massacre.

Was Rabaa the only massacre?

All major protests demanding Morsi's reinstatement were crushed by brutal force.
In July and August 2013, five separate mass killings took place, as Egyptian security forces killed at least 1,150 protesters in what were widely considered crimes against humanity. Investigations by independent rights groups reported that the killings were intentional and systematic.

 Who were the protesters?

Estimated to be nearly 85,000 people strong, protesters at the Rabaa sit-in were overwhelmingly peaceful, middle-class Egyptians. Many were said to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood, but many others were non-partisan civilians opposed to the coup. They included women, children and elderly people.

What happened in Rabaa?

Egyptian authorities promised a gradual dispersal of the protest, and said they would provide safe exits for people to leave the square.
The actual dispersal, however, was the opposite of that. In the span of 12 hours, from sunrise to sunset, security forces fired live ammunition on large crowds of protesters in intense fusillades.
The security forces used armoured personnel carriers (APCs), bulldozers, ground forces and snipers. They were covered by army tanks deployed outside the square.
Then-Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim later admitted in a TV interview that he had anticipated at least 2,000 fatalities among the protesters during the dispersal. This was echoed by then-Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi, who also said in an interview with the press that “the final outcome was less that we expected”.
The square was besieged for most of the day. Attacks were carried out from all the five entrances to the square, making it lethal for trapped protesters to try and leave the square or for the wounded to be transported to hospitals. Many of those who tried to escape were shot dead.
Most of the casualties were shot in the head, neck or chest.
Towards the end of the operation, security forces advanced towards the mosque and hospital in the centre of the square and asked the volunteer medics present to leave the wounded behind and exit the square. Then they set fire to the mosque and hospital, including the corpses of those killed and the wounded protesters who were still alive.
Evidence documented by independent rights groups suggests that most of the security forces' fire targeted crowds of unarmed protesters, which led to the high number of casualties.

Who were the victims?

Around 1,000 protesters are estimated to have been killed on that day. They included at least 30 children and 19 women, most killed by bullets to the head or chest.
Security forces detained 800 protesters over the course of the day, and summarily executed many of them.
Several journalists were killed while covering the event, including British Sky News cameraman Mick Deane, and two Al Jazeera cameramen.
Although the protesters were largely peaceful, the official Forensic Medical Authority said eight police officers were killed on that day.

Who was behind the operation?

The Rabaa operation was carried out by the interior ministry, then led by Ibrahim, and supervised by Sisi, who was defence minister and deputy prime minister for security affairs. The commander of police forces on that day was General Medhat Menshawy.

Was anyone prosecuted?

Yes, the surviving protesters. Not a single official was held accountable for Rabaa massacre. Menshawy, who was in charge of carrying out the operation, was later promoted to assistant minister of interior for central security. All officers who participated in the sit-in were given a bonus in recognition of their efforts. Sisi became president in June 2014.
On 3 July 2018, marking the fifth anniversary of the coup, the Egyptian parliament approved a law that exempts senior army officers from prosecution for any acts committed since July 2013. That includes Rabaa and seven other mass killings.
Nearly 1,000 protesters were prosecuted and many of them received life sentences and death sentences for their role in the demonstrations that followed the 2013 coup.

How did the world react?

The European Union and the United States condemned the killings, but later carried on business as usual with the Sisi government. The EU suspended its export of military equipment to Egypt after the massacre, but allowed individual states to continue to supply Egypt with weapons.
The US withheld part of its military aid in 2013 and 2017 but then released it, triggering accusations that it gave Sisi a "green light for repression”. Similarly, the UK, Egypt’s largest trade partner, revoked some arms export licences after the massacre, but arms sales later resumed.


A response to the celebrated Egyptian elite "activists'

A group of Egyptian activists and ordinary citizens who are never mentioned in English media coverage

For some reason Middle East Eye decided to interview only a handful of famous activists who are not only known to have very liberal positions, but also are very open about having supported and rallied people in Egypt and abroad for #June30. 

While they have all by a way or another paid a price from their personal freedoms due to the crackdown of the Egyptian military dictatorship on all opponents, they all clearly insist on stating that they "don't regret supporting #June30", a movement recognized as undemocratic, irrational, and catastrophic by all those who care or don't care about the prosperity of Egypt.   

It is shocking and disappointing to see how Middle East Eye is shifting more and more towards giving a platform only to liberal and secular celebrity voices in Egypt, a trend that has been apparent in the majority of western media outlets since protests erupted in Egypt in 2011.

If Middle East Eye is seriously concerned with the Egyptian turmoil they need to do a better job than this. You can hire an Arabic-English translator or try to find more people to interview other than the 10 upper-middle-class Egyptians who supported the coup whom everyone in the world interviews since 2011.

We are writing this blog however because we were delighted to see a wonderfully written response from a commentator on the silly article. The comment breaks down the issue of Egyptian liberal elites contributing to the crisis in Egypt. To our surprise, the comment was by Jim Toth, an anthropologist who studies Egypt, the Arab world, and the wider Islamic community. He has taught at the American University of Cairo and at Northeastern University, and since 2011, has worked at New York University in Abu Dhabi. He is the author of Rural Labor Movements in Egypt and Their Impact in the State, 1961-1992. 

Here is a link to the Middle East Eye article:

Here is Jim Toth's brilliant response:

Abdel Fatah and her friends are hypocrites. Democracy is when all the people voice their choice and opinion. She and her friends may have their own opinion – support Sisi and oppose Morsi – and so let them vote their choice along with all the millions of other voters in Egypt by holding honest elections. 

But to support an anti-democrat such as Sisi and to support the anti-democratic forces that removed Morsi without due process of an election – this is hypocritical. Don’t say Abdel Fatah was a “co-founder” of April 6. She and her friends are still hypocrites because in the last election
prior to July 3, Morsi had won, and they should, if they are true democrats, respect the people’s decision. 

It is not up to them and their elitist friends (the National Salvation Front) to use their social position, their access to the media, and their westernized demeanor to then remove a democratically-elected president, or support his illegal removal, whether or not he made serious mistakes (mistakes that were amplified and exaggerated by an anti-Brotherhood media). 

Nobel prize? Perhaps she ought to stand in line behind Trump. Both are so preposterously unqualified for a Nobel prize that to consider them seriously degrades the value of the prize itself.

For good reason or bad, the majority of ordinary Egyptians had voted in Morsi, and thus, Abdel
Fatah, along with her elitist friends, along with Sisi and the military, have no right in a democracy to overturn the election, unless they are willing to admit it is anti-democratic act and, therefore, the first step on the road to an authoritarian regime. To then pat themselves on the back and say “what good liberals we are” is the height of hypocrisy.

Is this a conflict between “east Cairo” (old Islamic Cairo) (along with Giza) against European Cairo (the nationalists) and the “wings” of New Cairo and October 6 (the neo-liberals)? Abdel Fatah and her crowd are so willing to dismiss the values and principles of the majority of her country-men and -women in those areas who wanted, and voted for, an uncorrupted (naïve?) candidate as president, one that did not have all the un-Egyptian trappings of ibn al-zayyat. In the last presidential elections, many more Egyptians supported a Muslim Brotherhood government than they supported a secular, westernized elitist government. 

She and her friends ought to recognize that, show some humility, some respect, and in democratic fashion, work within the system rather than support and commit extra-legal, unconstitutional acts.

For all her deeds, and those of her friends, they got Sisi, a 100-fold worse than Morsi. Had they been patient, respectful, and lawful, or had insisted on respect, legitimacy, and real democracy, they would not be stuck with Egypt’s worst dictator.

Perhaps they got what they deserved, but, of course, they are not going to be the ones who really hurt for it. But it is the Egyptian people, those unable to make it through the dismal economy and those jailed for belonging to the Brotherhood, who do not deserve this calamity. 

This crime lies squarely on the shoulders of the secular liberals who ought to have known better, but made a pact with the devil in order to assure themselves that their beliefs and way of life are better than those of the majority of Egyptian.


Our Egypt vs. Egypt in the Western mind

The only images known about Egypt in the western mind are of magic and Pharaohs
One of the most frustrating things about being an Egyptian living in a western society, or talking with westerners about where you come from, and sometimes even just being able to read English alone is that you are constantly reminded that westerners care more about ancient Egyptian mythology and orientalist images of Egyptian kings and queens than they care about your own story and reality of where contemporary Egypt is at today.

Westerners have zero interest in wanting to know about pretty much anything that's not pyramids and Pharaohs related. They have zero interest in today's Egyptians, including yourself.

They don't care that Egypt also has an Arab and Islamic heritage in addition to its ancient Pharaonic cizilization, or that it has been an Arab and Muslim land for the past 1400 years, or that it is a post-colony which fought fiercely against the French and the British colonization efforts, and today against other forms of oppression.

 They don't care about how Egyptians who live in Egypt today look like, think, dream, live, suffer, thrive, and continue to struggle for their quest towards a better and more dignified life in their beloved country Egypt. They don't care about the massive disparity between the rich and the poor, the political turmoil, the deteriorating health and education, the crazy rates of unemployment and the complete lack of opportunity for the youth.

Will Smith Posts on His Facebook About Egypt and the ...

The western media doesn't cover stories on Egypt but every once in a while you will see tons of stories on major news outlets about finding an Egyptian king's head in Cairo, and Will Smith posing with the Sphinx to promote tourism everywhere on the internet. 
They might wake up and cover the electoral processes some but their reporting will be very reserved and won't touch on any serious issues because they don't want to upset their governments which support the Egyptian military regime with money and weapons. 


Egyptian Presidential Elections: 2012 and now

Today is the beginning of the farce elections where General Abdul Fattah Al Sisi is the only candidate running. You don't hear much anywhere in the world that this is taking place because it's a shameful joke that nobody is going to take seriously. 

I remember how things were completely different 6 years ago during the elections in 2012. Although I decided not to vote to any of the candidates, I can't deny that the atmosphere and the accomplishments we made were a source of pride and hope for us Egyptians and everyone else who was following us around the world.

Egypt experienced 1 genuine historical round of elections in 2012 after the blessed Egyptian revolution of January 25th, 2011. While it wasn't 'perfect', it was the closest experience to a democratic process Egypt could have dreamed of at that time.

After the revolution, Egypt was trying to recover long decades of military dictatorship, oppression, lack of political space, and tons of social and political illnesses.

The 2012 round came as a result of the efforts and sacrifices of the Egyptian revolutionary when their expectations and dreams were the strongest voice in the whole country.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) didn't want ANY elections held but the people at that time were pushing hard and made it possible.

Egypt had dozens of presidential candidates, Egyptians were discussing politics openly everywhere, electoral campaigns were active all over the country, freedom, excitement, and aspirations were all in the air. There was no way you could miss all of this or take it lightly. This was literally the very first time Egyptians were given the choice of choosing their ruler in a very very long time.

The overthrow of Muhammad Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt who is now suffering medical negligence in prison, destroyed all of this. That's why June 30th, 2013 was a cheap military coup and if you think otherwise and claim to be a 'revolutionary' you are either deluded or fooling yourself. We will continue to speak up. 


Islam Khalil: Former Egyptian prisoner disappeared again!

Sharing the following statement as we received it from Nour Khalil, the brother of disappeared Islam Khalil:
 Arabic text is translated below. Please help us and Islam family's share his story.
For more information and to follow Islam's campaign please check out the Facebook page Free Eslam Khalil

يوم الخميس 8 مارس شقيقي اسلام خليل سافر اسوان وكنت على اتصال معه حتى صباح يوم السبت 10 مارس، في البداية تخيلت ان ممكن يكون الموبايل فصل لكن لحد النهاردة مفيش اي تواصل معاه .
وردت لنا أنباء بأن إسلام قد ألقي القبض عليه، إلا أن قسم شرطة أسوان أنكر وجوده لديهم فتقدمنا بتليغراف للنائب العام يوم 15 مارس برقم 259232678 بالواقعة.
بعدها وصلتنا اخبار انه هيظهر في محكمة قنا العسكرية اليوم الأحد 18 مارس متهما بتواجده في منطقة عسكرية، إلا أنه لم يظهر في المحكمة أيضا، وبسؤال النيابة قيل لنا أنه لم يعرض عليها أصلا واتصلت النيابة بكل من نيابة الغردقة ونيابة أسوان فقيل لها أنه غير متواجد لدى أي منهما. حتى الآن لم يصلنا أي رد أو أنباء عن مكان تواجده.
أخويا إسلام خليل مختفي قسريا منذ السبت 10 مارس 2018 ومحتجز بدون اي سند قانوني .
اسلام اتقبض عليه سابقا في 24 مايو 2015 واختفي وقتها 122 يوم اتعرض فيهم لابشع انواع التعذيب اللي لسه لحد دلوقتي كان بيحاول يتخطي اثاره الصحية والنفسية عليه ، ولما ظهر بعد اختفائه اتسجن سنة كاملة في ظروف احتجاز غير انسانية وبعد اخلاء سبيله بكفالة 50 الف جنيه الداخلية رفضت اخلاء سبيله وعملوله قضية جديدة خد فيها اخلاء سبيل ، وبعد ما خرج من السجن اتعرض للاحتجاز مرتين غير التضييق اللي كان بيحصل ضده ... دلوقتي اسلام محتجز لدي الاجهزة الامنية ومفيش اي معلومات عنه .

On Thursday, 8th of March , my brother Islam Khalil traveled to Aswan and I was in contact with him until Saturday morning 10th of March .
In the beginning I thought that his mobile could be out of charge ,but till this moment we still have no contact with him.
We got information that Islam had been arrested, however the police department of Aswan denied his presence there. We sent a telegraph to the General attorney on 15th of March( No. 259232678 ).
After that we received another information that Islam appeared in the Military Court of Qena on Sunday, 18 th of March, accused of being in a military zone, but unfortunately he did not appear in the court . Then we were told by the prosecution representative that they know nothing about him and contacted the prosecution offices in Hurghada and Aswan ,who informed him that Islam is not there.
Till now we still have not received any response or information which could reveal where my brother is. 
Islam Khalil has been forcibly disappeared since Saturday 10th of March 2018 and he is detained without any legal basis.

Islam was arrested before on May 24, 2015, and disappeared for 122 days. He was subjected to the worst forms of torture. He was still trying to overcome the physical and psychological effects of this experience.
After his disappearance, he was imprisoned for one year under inhumane conditions. When he has been released on bail, the internal ministry kept him imprisoned and fabricated a new case against him in which he was also released, but then got detained twice after that.


Statement on recent BBC report Feb 2018

The BBC made a story recently on politically motivated enforced disappearances in Egypt after the military coup in 2013. The report featured a few cases one of them was a middle aged Egyptian woman who spoke on her daughter named Zubayda who was kidnapped and disappeared by the Egyptian state for over a year. Her testimony brought so much attention and created an uproar in the Egyptian social media sphere to the degree that the Egyptian state had to do something.
This isn't the first time local and international human rights organizations or international media spoke of the phenomenon. When the Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni was disappeared and then killed in Cairo the whole world spoke of the incident for a long time. Local and international human rights organizations have documented and spoke of 1,000s of enforced disappearance cases for the past 4 years.
However, this latest report seemed to disturb the Egyptian state so much to the degree that they eventually forced the young woman Zubaida who was disappeared for a year to come on Egyptian TV and deny that she was arrested and disappeared as the BBC report showed. It was a pathetic set up and it was clear that Zubayda had to do this under so much pressure. Her mother who appeared on the BBC was detained today, Feb 28th, 2018.
The Egyptian general prosecutor ordered lawyers and prosecutors to "Watch and report news and reports made by forces of evil". Pro-Sisi's social media accounts are roaming the internet denying that there is any torture, imprisonment, or enforced disappearances in Egypt.
While there is some spotlight on the situation in Egypt and while the issue is hot, we wanted to remind the international community and those who are confused because they can't get reliable information on what is going in Egypt that there are atrocities being committed in Egypt while the whole world is ignoring us.

We wanted to remind all of you that there was a military coup in July 2013 and that as a result of this tragedy thousands of Egyptians have paid a very high price for standing against injustice. We wanted to remind all of you that there are tens of thousands of unjustly imprisoned men, women, boys, girls, and elders whose only crime was speaking up. Ignoring what is going on in Egypt while you can say something helps the Egyptian state continue to get away with all of this.
We would like to salute all of the local Egyptian human rights organizations and human rights defenders who are working under so much pressure and risking their lives and future by continuing to do this work with very little support and recognition.
We would also like to thank the BBC team and those in HRW and other international organizations for utilizing their privileges and speaking about what is going on in Egypt from time to time.
Please check out our archives on the blog here as well as the following outlets for more related information and detailed reports on enforced disappearances in Egypt after the military coup:

The Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms

Verità per Giulio Regeni