One protester’s tale: Paying the fee for looking for freedom in Egypt

Mahmoud Mohammed Hussein Image caption Mahmoud Hussein says he needs a crutch on account of abuse and medical forget in jail

it is six years because the outbreak of the 18-day revolution in Egypt which swept the autocrat, Hosni Mubarak, from energy. But human rights campaigners say the location within the united states of america is now a ways worse than earlier than the uprising, as Orla Guerin reviews from Cairo.

With every step he is taking, Mahmoud Mohammed Hussein is reminded of the cost he paid for in need of freedom and democracy in Egypt.

The 21-yr-vintage has a reported limp and is determined by a crutch – a legacy, he says, of beatings all the way through virtually 800 days in a chain of prisons. Ten months have handed on the grounds that his unencumber, however he still appears frail.

Mahmoud is certainly one of thousands who’ve been detained in up to date years below Egypt’s up to date strongman, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.

As military leader he led the military overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013.

Image copyright AFP Symbol caption Other People took to the streets of Cairo on 25 January 2011 to call for Hosni Mubarak surrender

Mahmoud joined the throngs behind bars back in 2014, while he was once simply 18.

His ordeal started on 25 January, the anniversary of the outbreak of the revolution. His destiny was sealed by means of his T-blouse which learn: “A nation with out torture.”

“It used to be a day of birthday celebration for me,” mentioned Mahmoud, who has darkish curly hair and a able smile.

“I wasn’t a part of the revolution, however i believed in it and its objectives. It made me feel like a person, with rights and tasks.

“In This Day And Age, people see the anniversary as a black day, they concern when it comes. For me the temper was one in all party.”

Symbol copyright AFP Image caption Supporters of Abdul Fattah al-Sisi had been allowed to take to the streets on 25 January 2014

But then – as now – the streets have been reserved for President Sisi’s supporters. They Might gather freely, in contrast to his critics. Protests are just about banned right here.

We witnessed police starting fireplace that day – with are living rounds – on unarmed demonstrators.

Mahmoud mentioned he was once no longer focused on any of the protests, however that he was detained as he headed for house.

“The officer who arrested me advised me, ‘You have my picture to your T-shirt’,” he mentioned.

“The T-shirt was inspired through the revolution. I noticed it as a beautiful thing, no longer against the law. a rustic without torture is a dream that everybody wishes for.”

Image copyright AFP Symbol caption Dozens died in clashes with security forces at anti-executive protests three years in the past

That dream used to be it seems that no longer shared by means of the police he encountered that day. Mahmoud stated they quickly employed the torture abilities for which human rights groups have lengthy condemned the Egyptian police.

“i used to be abused at the checkpoint the place i was arrested,” he advised us.

“Then they transferred me to the police station. i used to be electrocuted on my private portions. They kicked me with their military boots, and hit me with sticks.

“Everybody knew i was there as a result of the T-shirt. They believed this was once a private insult to them, in order that they beat me.”

the aim, he said, was once to get him to signal a false confession.

Symbol copyright Egyptian govt Image caption Mahmoud Hussein (centre) used to be photographed with the T-shirt reading “A nation without torture”

“A senior officer beat me and kicked me after which requested junior law enforcement officials to do the process,” he mentioned.

“They wanted me to signal a document announcing i used to be towards the police. I refused. The juniors have their very own tactics – if beating does not paintings, then electrocution would possibly do the job.

“i used to be stripped naked, without even boxer shorts, and i was overwhelmed just to admit to sure fees”.

Mahmoud asked the officials to spare his leg, which was injured within the past.

“They insisted on kicking me and beating me on that leg,” he said.

“because of the entire abuse and the scientific forget in jail I now want my family member, the crutch, and surgical procedures.”

His account is in keeping with testimony from others who have been detained in recent years. We requested the Egyptian executive for a response to the allegation that detainees had been crushed and tortured in custody. there has been no reply.

within the earlier the authorities have denied there is systematic torture, however said there could also be individual cases.

Symbol caption Mahmoud faces charges including becoming a member of a banned terrorist workforce – one thing he denies

Mahmoud described both bodily and psychological abuse.

He instructed us he spent 14 months in a single overcrowded cell phone where he may barely transfer, and could now not see daylight.

there have been about ONE HUNDRED FIFTY different prisoners, together with Islamists and males held for rape and homicide.

“I all the time had this portion of fear,” he mentioned, “the entire time, as a result of jail is like a tomb. it is a place that takes away your soul, and kills the whole thing gorgeous in you.”

Symbol copyright AFP Symbol caption Tens of heaps of people were jailed in a sweeping crackdown on dissent given that 2013

Mahmoud was once launched from detention final March – following campaigns at home and out of the country.

Whilst he’s again home together with his family in Cairo, he’s not totally unfastened.

He nonetheless faces charges together with joining an unauthorized protest, possession of explosives and joining a banned terrorist team – all of which he denies.

“i could go back to jail at any time,” he stated. “They Might simply pick out me walking on the side road.

“Considering The Fact That my free up that has happened twice. i was held for a couple of hours and then they allow me pass.”

Image copyright Getty Pictures Image caption Public grievance and non violent opposition are effectively banned in Egypt, rights activists say

Mahmoud has also been receiving threatening phone calls.

“One informed me i might now not have time to come back to jail,” he stated, “that means that somebody may stab me or kill me. i did not reply. I just hung up.”

In spite of all the dangers, together with the chance that he might be placed on trial, Mahmoud refuses to be silenced.

“In Egypt my rights and the rights of heaps of others like me are violated, just for dreaming or hoping for freedom,” he said.

“Their destiny is jail, or loss of life. that’s not going to prevent me from talking out, or taking care of heaps like me. “

Officials right here would not provide us a comment on allegations that all dissent is being overwhelmed.

Symbol copyright AFP Symbol caption President Sisi said in September that “there can be no go back to dictatorship”

President Sisi has stated within the prior that stability is extra important than freedom, however he maintains that dictatorship can not return to Egypt. Critics believe in a few key respects it never left.

When asked if the revolution is now dead, Mahmoud gave a speedy reaction.

“No, no longer in any respect,” he insisted. “25 January is a dream with the intention to never die. The revolution lives within the hearts of people like me, of everyone who believes in it.

“the current regime is making an attempt desperately to erase it from reminiscence.”

As for the T- blouse that value him his freedom, he has no regrets.

“I always say that if i may go back, in spite of the entire abuses I suffered, i might put on the T-blouse once more,” he mentioned.

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