Heba Morayef is an Egypt-based researcher for Human Rights Watch
guardian.co.uk, Friday 20 May 2011
"The most worrying development of the past few months has been the detentions and trials conducted by the military. It's a very worrying precedent at the very time when people are looking to see how Egypt is going to manage the transitional process in terms of issues of justice and accountability.
The army is presenting itself as taking a strong hand against criminals and thugs, and that resonates with people, but historically this is exactly the kind of rhetoric Mubarak's police state depended on. We need a shift from whoever is governing the country towards the strict application of the rule of law, and that hasn't happened extensively yet....
Arbitrary arrests of protesters by the military have taken place on numerous occasions. At least 85 demonstrators who were detained on 9 March are still in Tora prison [the same jail where Mubarak's sons and other former regime figures are being held]. The military wants to intimidate people not to protest on the street; all of these guys were taken to the grounds of the Egyptian Museum and tortured – beaten, whipped, subjected to electric shocks from stun guns. They weren't interrogated, and the aim was never to extract information from them. Officers told them "you are the ones ruining the revolution, we haven't been home for 60 days because of you". They were tried in groups of 25 at a time, in military court cases which only lasted 30 minutes, then all sentenced to up to five years behind bars....."