Monday, February 13, 2012

Egypt and its generals: between denial and repression

By Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International

"Last March, following a violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a group of 18 women protesters were detained by the Egyptian army.

Seventeen of them were held for four days, repeatedly beaten, given electric shocks, subjected to strip searches and at least seven were forced to submit to “virginity checks”. They were told that “those not found to be virgins” would be charged with prostitution. Before they were released, the women were brought before a military court and received one-year suspended sentences for variety of confected charges.

Only one of the women ultimately felt strong enough to endure the risks of coming forward to fight what had happened. Samira Ibrahim(left), a 25-year-old marketing manager from Sohag, Upper Egypt, filed two complaints in Egyptian courts: one demanding an end to the “tests” on Egyptian women; the other for what she had to personally endure. Months later, she is still waiting for justice and change. She is not alone.

One year after the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ended three decades of crushing repression, people across Egypt are also waiting for justice and change. The success of the 25 January movement that ended the Mubarak regime offered promises that have yet to be kept. And instead of a new, freer and more equal Egypt, many are trapped between the old and new, living under military rule and facing an uncertain future.

Mubarak’s iron fist was rapidly replaced by an equally formidable military junta known as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has been in control of government functions for the past year....."

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