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By Olga Rodríguez / Translation: Blanca García Bertolaza
  • An 18 year old girl, new victim of police brutality after taking part in a protest in memory of Khaled Said
  • Human Rights Watch reports repression, random arrests and 5,600 civilian subject to military trials since February
Imagen de previsualización de YouTube

The cry of  “We are all Khaled Said” has been heard again this week in Cairo and Alexandria, during the protests held for the first anniversary of the murder of the young man at the hands of the Egyptian security forces, an event that increased outrage among the population and speeded up the process that led to the revolts.

The protest in the capital took place in front of the Ministry of the Interior building, where thousands of people gathered, among them known activists of what has been called the Egyptian revolution.

“The dignity of the people of Egypt is our red line”, they chanted

Graffiti artist Hossam Shukralleh brought a paper stencil cut out with Khaled Said’s features that left the victim’s face stamped on the walls of the Ministry, to the moved applause of those gathered there. (See video)


One of those who took part in the protest was young Salma Al-Sawy, member of the April 6th Movement, key in last January’s popular uprising, and ex member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Salma Al-Sawy left the concentration at dusk and headed for her home.

According what she has reported, on the way she was intercepted by a police officer, who blindfolded her and took her to a place where she was interrogated

Salma Al-Sawy

The officer asked her about several April 6th movement activists, among them Asmaa Mahfouz, a young woman who in January uploaded a video on Youtube in which she called to participate in the protest organized for January 25th, date in which the revolts started.

“The officer asked me if Asmaa was abroad gathering economic help to finance movements and parties, to overthrow the military Council that is in power”, Al-Sawy has explained.

“When I denied the accusation, he hit me with a stick on my hands, legs and then on my head. I lost consciousness”

Salma remained under arrest for 6 hours. Eventually, an officer told her that he was going to set her free because he could not stand to hear her whimpers.

When she got out on the street, she saw that indeed she was in one of the National Security Forces headquarters.

Two days later, the young woman met with Prime Minister Esaam Sharaf to report what had happened. Sharaf promised to take her complaint to the Ministry of the Interior, but that organism has already hurried to deny the accusations.

“The new security forces serve the country without interfering in the citizens’ lives and without violating their right to political participation”, it has stated.

“These statements [the Minister’s] are not true; the State’s security machinery has come back strong”, replied Salma Al-Sawy, who has received the support of numerous activists.

Salma’s case is not an isolated event.

In the past few weeks several cases or arrests and interrogations from the military police to well-known bloggers, graffiti artists and activists have been registered.

Young people protest against repression, arrests and military trials. Tahrir, Cairo, June 3rd 2011. (Olga Rodríguez)


Even though Egyptian personalities such as prestigious writer Alaa Aswany have publicly placed their trust in the intern military Council, the fact is that since Mubarak’s fall many cases of abuse and repression on the part of the Army have been reported.

A new accusation came this week from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

According to HRW data, at least 5,600 civilians have been convicted in military courts since the fall of ex-president Hosni Mubarak in February 11th.

Kenneth Roth, HRW executive director, has pointed out that the Egyptian executive’s level of compromise to investigate and arrest every member of the security forces involved in tortures and abuse is not clear.

“To really change an institution it is necessary to go after the supervisors who ordered the torture, not only after the torturers; if not, torture will show its ugly head again and infect the new agency”, he has pointed out.

Roth interviewed an official of the Egyptian military council about the “virginity tests” to women who were protesting in Tahrir last March 9th. Said officer defended before Roth the use of those tests (done against the women’s will, which is why it would be more accurate to call them sexual abuse).

HRW has denounced those procedures, which it describes as degrading and humiliating.

It has also asked the Egyptian provisional government to set free the arrested protesters and to repeal the emergency law, in effect since 1981.

Farmers who were protesting arrested by the police. Cairo, June 8th (Nora Shalaby)


Several groups who propelled the Egyptian revolts have denounced a ¿?stop in the advance towards democracy since April 9th, date in which the Armed Forces violently vacated about 3,000 people camped in Tahrir, among which were about twenty military men who had joined the protests.

As this journalist was able to witness that morning of April 9th in Cairo, the Army fired shots nonstop for two and a half hours.

The official reports admitted the death of two protesters. 71 more were wounded and dozens more were arrested, among them the soldiers who had joined the protests.

“They feared that the presence of members of the Army could be seen as a division in the Armed Forces and they did not hesitate in attacking them brutally. That date marks a turning point Now things are at a standstill”, denounced this week a spokesperson for the Committee of Young People for the Revolution.

In spite of the HRW recommendations, the emergency law is still in effect. And not just that.

This week the intern government has confirmed the entry into force of another law that bans strikes and protests “that hinder productivity”

In the last few days, protests by students, automotive industry workers, farmers or Petrojet employees have been broken up.

Several protesters have been arrested, as various human rights defense groups have denounced.

Another law has also been approved, which raises the number of people necessary to form a political party to 5,000. This hinders the work of left-wing groups, which had been clandestine until now.

That is the reason why there are many public voices who report the existence of a counterrevolution, with intermittent repression on the street and a complicated political scenario for the new groups, who played a leading role in organizing the revolts.