Friday, December 30, 2005

Total Impunity

More harrowing proof, if such be needed, of an out of control police force manned by hapless recruits and vicious officers and their mercenary higher ups. In the wee hours of Friday, Hosni Mubarak’s ever-expanding police apparatus targeted Sudanese refugees holding a months-long sit-in to protest the UNHCR’s refusal to hear their cases for resettlement after the peace deal in Sudan. al-Jazeera broadcast horrifying footage of water cannons sprayed onto refugees in the frigid night air, riot police warming up as if for a decisive battle, and ruthless walkie-talkie-wielding officers beating, kicking, and slapping unarmed refugees (including women) as they dragged them to buses waiting to transport them to camps outside the city. The death toll so far: 20, including several children.

The Interior Ministry claims that refugees were drunk and hurled liquor bottles, injuring 75 officers and riot policemen. The Interior Ministry also claims that police used “restraint.” Egyptian television dutifully repeated the claims, showing footage of the injured officers in hospital, flanked by sympathetic family members. Of course, no images of injured or abused refugees were aired. The Muslim Brothers are vowing to raise the matter of police brutality in parliament. They would do well to follow through. Merely a few weeks ago, the very same police forces shot voters to prevent them from approaching polling stations. The very same, hateful “State Security” officers beat up judges, just as they pummelled unarmed refugee men and women.

Egyptian police brutality is now legendary. With alarming frequency every year, Egyptian police officers maim, kill, and otherwise abuse completely innocent citizens. The police has become a gargantuan, horrendous monster, sicced on whoever curries the displeasure of the powers that be. Controlling, disciplining, and entirely reforming this extremely abusive, corruption-laden, and entirely unaccountable apparatus is quite literally a matter of national security.

*AP Photo.