Egyptians state authorities have forcibly abducted and tortured hundreds of citizens in a government crackdown on opposition and dissent. A report released by the United Kingdom-based rights group Amnesty international Wednesday revealed that hundreds of people, many of them political activists, students, and protesters, have disappeared without a trace after security forces raided their homes.
The Amnesty report says an average of three to four people have been disappearing each day.
The report also documents 17 cases, including those of five children who had disappeared for periods of “between several days to seven months.”
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One of the abductees, a boy who just turned 14 in September, had been the victim of “horrendous abuse, including “being repeatedly raped with a wooden stick in order to extract a false confession.”
More than 1,000 people have been killed and another 40,000 are being held in jails since Egypt’s new government came to power.
Most of the victims of the forced disappearances are supporters of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president who won elections on the platform of the Muslim Brotherhood but was ousted in a July 2013 coup led by current president Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, who was then head of the Egyptian military.
According to the report, the National Council of Human Rights, Egypt’s official rights group, said on July 3 it had reported 266 cases of enforced disappearances that occurred between April 2015 and the end of March to the interior ministry.
Amnesty International Director for the Middle East and North Africa Philip Luther said, “Enforced disappearance has become a key instrument of state policy in Egypt. Anyone who dares to speak out is at risk.”
In its response to the Amnesty report on its official Facebook page on Wednesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry slammed the Amnesty report, describing the group as “biased” and “driven by political agendas.”
“Any objective reader can tell instantly that the organisation’s reports depend on sources that reflect the opinion of one side and people that are in a state of hostility towards the Egyptian government.
“It ignores the court rulings on the cases mentioned and does not base its information on materials and clear principals of the Egyptian law and constitution.”
In the past, Egyptian authorities had repeatedly denied that they practice torture, but by its own admission, it now concedes that there have been isolated incidents of abuse and those responsible have been prosecuted.
There have also been clear attempts by Egyptian authorities to gag the press. Last month, Egyptian security services brashly kicked out British-Lebanese journalist Lilian Daoud, a popular television talk show host in Egypt, for airing opposition voices on her show that were critical of Egypt’s’ new strong man leader President al-Sisi.
The Amnesty report also criticised European governments and the United States, saying they “blindly supply security and police equipment to Egypt” and “have appeared overly reluctant to criticise the deteriorating human rights conditions in Egypt.”