Monday, March 21, 2005

Police Brutality Files

A new chapter in the Egyptian police's ongoing predation against citizens. Since March 4, police have laid siege to the Delta hamlet of Sarando, detaining women, children, and elderly village denizens. A local landowning family has been trying to evict the villagers from lands they have farmed for generations; the police are enthusiastically assisting them. Egyptian human rights groups monitoring the case since January estimate that the land dispute involves 10,000 residents of Sarando and environs. Villager Nafisa al-Marakbi, 38, died after being beaten by police officers. As usual, no autopsy was performed on the body and police made sure it was buried the same day. Read Human Rights Watch's description based on the courageous monitoring work of Egyptian rights groups.

When activists and journalists tried to file a grievance with the Prosecutor-General, State Security officers beat and detained them, including MP Hamdeen Sabahy (apparently parliamentary immunity counts for nothing). Prosecutor General Maher Abdel Wahed finally agreed to meet with the activists and ordered Marakbi's body exhumed and an autopsy conducted.

Meanwhile, al-Arish residents are still reeling from the arbitrary round-up of some 2,400 residents after the October 7 Taba bombings, many of whom remain detained. al-Ahram Weekly describes the situation; see also the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights' November 2004 report.