|Activist blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah (Photo: Masry25.blogspot.com)|
We are all Essam Atta today.
Essam Atta, 24, has apparently been tortured to death at Cairo's Tora prison. He was a victim of flooding his body with water through his mouth and anus. His family received calls from other inmates about the torture. Atta was being punished for smuggling a mobile phone SIM card into his cell. He had been tried by a military court on February 25th in relation to illegally occupying an apartment, and sentenced to two years. His family says he was simply nearby a scuffle at the time of his arrest.
Egyptian Prison Guards Accused of Torture Death
Latest alleged torture death in Egypt prompts public outcry against SCAF
It is not an easy time to be a journalist or a blogger in Egypt. In my view, the SCAF seems to have a consistent, and purposeful policy of harassing, intimidating, and arresting journalists and bloggers who criticize their regime.
Activists Alaa Seif Abd El-Fattah and Bahaa Saber were questioned at the offices of the military prosecution this morning, Sunday on charges of instigating the Maspero clashes. Abd El-Fattah runs the political blog Manalaa. He is one of Egypt's most famous bloggers. Human rights activist Mona Seif says that military prosecutors claim to possess video footage proving that Seif and Saber (rather implausibly) had incited protesters to commit violent attacks against army personnel during the Maspero clashes.
Here is a good post by fellow blogger Abdu Rahman that links the Maspero clashes with the deaths of Atta and the imprisonment of Alaa and Bahaa.
Pictures of the Dead Continue to Haunt Us
According to Al Ahram and Al Masry, around 12,000 civilians have been tried before military courts since February 11, 2011.
The military prosecutor also summoned a journalist, Mahmoud Al-Daba, who writes for the independent weekly Sawt al-Omma, for criticizing irregularities in the appointment of lecturers at Al Azhar University. The weekly magazine was confiscated in September after criticizing Egypt's General Intelligence Services. The Editor in Chief of the paper has rejected the summons. Three journalists Hossam el-Hamalawy, Reem Maged, and Nabil Shraf al-Din were summoned to appear before military judges for criticisms of the SCAF.
Meanwhile, detained blogger Maikel Nabil has been cleared of mental illness by a panel at Abbasiya Mental Hospital. He has been returned to a military prison in northern Cairo. Nabil was sentenced to three years in military prison for writing a blog called "The people and the army were never one hand." Ironically, as the SCAF becomes more and more ruthless against civilians, the title of Nabil's blog appears to be increasingly correct.
Journalist summoned by military prosecutor
Detained Blogger Returns to Military Prison
Finally, in the wake of the Maspero tragedy, the European Parliament in Strasbourg passed a draft resolution accusing the Egyptian and Syrian governments of persecuting their Christian minorities. Some 10,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since March, 2011.