Crushing Dissent in Egypt Our World


Crushing Dissent in Egypt

As Egypt's president al-Sisi looks set to be re-elected in March, Orla Guerin meets the victims of alleged human rights violations by his regime.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Crushing Dissent in Egypt. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Now on BBC News, it's

time for Our World.

0:00:000:00:04

Welcome to Egypt.

0:00:090:00:11

Enticing images of timeless

hospitality and ancient attractions.

0:00:120:00:17

A picture postcard view

the authorities are keen to promote.

0:00:170:00:26

But there is another Egypt -

a military-backed regime

0:00:260:00:29

where dreams of freedom

have been crushed.

0:00:300:00:39

and this is the approach to dissent.

In the last few minutes the police

0:00:400:00:44

have been using teargas and have

been live rounds. I have been the

0:00:440:00:49

BBC 's corresponded in Egypt in the

four years. I have tracked the

0:00:490:00:56

escalating crackdown on the streets.

Gatherings like this are few and far

0:00:560:01:00

between. Gunfire. And I have

witnessed peaceful protest is being

0:01:000:01:05

targeted. Wait.

I have never seen a

regime as bloody as Sisi's regime.

A

0:01:050:01:13

regime were a growing number have

simply disappeared.

0:01:130:01:16

This regime is based on Terara and

torture is one detail of that.

Press

0:01:240:01:28

freedom is under attack, much of the

brutality carries on scene. This is

0:01:280:01:35

a story the regime would prefer us

not to tell.

0:01:350:01:39

It all looked so different seven

years ago.

0:01:520:01:56

This was Tahrir Square

in February 2011 -

0:01:560:01:59

the night the people broke free

of President Hosni Mubarak,

0:01:590:02:06

ending 30 years of authoritarian

rule - or so they hoped.

0:02:060:02:26

At the new dawn didn't bring a

vibrant new democracy in the heart

0:02:260:02:30

of the Middle East.

0:02:300:02:31

Now, the square feels like a place

of lost opportunity.

0:02:310:02:39

Well, standing here in Tahrir Square

seven years on, there is really

0:02:390:02:42

nothing

to indicate that this

0:02:420:02:43

was the cradle of an uprising,

0:02:430:02:46

that it was here that the people

toppled an autocrat.

0:02:460:02:49

The monument is bare,

no list of names of all of those

0:02:490:02:52

who were killed, and that is just

the way the authorities want it.

0:02:520:02:58

It is as if the revolution has been

erased and along with it,

0:02:580:03:00

the hope it brought.

0:03:000:03:09

The former military strongman Hosni

Mubarak wound up behind bars. He was

0:03:090:03:14

succeeded in 2012 and the Islamist

Mohamed more sea the Muslim

0:03:140:03:19

Brotherhood. Egypt's first

democratically elected president.

0:03:190:03:27

But he too was jailed after a

divisive here in office. He had been

0:03:270:03:37

ousted in July 2013 in a military

coup that had mass popular support.

0:03:370:03:44

The coup was led by the Army Chief,

General Abdel Fatteh el-Sisi who

0:03:440:03:50

went on to be alert to President one

year later. Critics say he has

0:03:500:03:56

presided over an unprecedented

assault on human rights. I came to

0:03:560:04:06

Cairo on Egremont's watch as history

was being rewritten. Those hailed as

0:04:060:04:10

heroes of the revolution were being

treated as enemies of the state.

0:04:100:04:17

Like Alaa Abd El-Fattah, one of

Egypt's best-known dissidents. He is

0:04:170:04:23

seen here out on bail. The blogger

and human rights campaigner is from

0:04:230:04:29

a prominent family of activist.

This

was someone who could have been

0:04:290:04:38

amazing, not just to this country,

this is someone with a really

0:04:380:04:42

valuable mind and set of skills and

it is because of fat that he is

0:04:420:04:46

being put away.

I met Alaa Abd

El-Fattah in April 20 14. He had

0:04:460:04:54

already been charged and he talked

about how much worse things were

0:04:540:04:59

than before the revolution.

When you

were confronting Mubarek, hope was

0:04:590:05:06

material things, like you could

almost touch it, and it was very

0:05:060:05:12

easy to feel that it was worth it

and people were taking these risks

0:05:120:05:16

without feeling any kind of despair.

Right now it is looking bleak.

0:05:160:05:22

He was a leading light

of the Tahrir protests.

0:05:220:05:25

Secular, articulate,

a software developer,

0:05:250:05:32

He was used to paying the price for

speaking out. He was jailed or

0:05:320:05:36

threatened with arrest under all of

the recent regimes here. And when

0:05:360:05:41

his son was born, he was in prison.

0:05:410:05:51

Alaa Abd El-Fattah was accused

of organising this protest.

0:05:510:05:55

The demonstrators appeared peaceful.

0:05:550:05:57

The authorities were not.

0:05:570:06:04

Protest or effectively banned.

0:06:040:06:10

-- Protests are effectively banned.

0:06:100:06:13

I was in court to see him being

convicted. Others came forward to

0:06:130:06:21

say they plan to the protest. He

still got five years. Another member

0:06:210:06:28

of generation jail.

0:06:280:06:35

His fractured family

go through the motions

0:06:410:06:45

without a much-loved son,

husband and brother.

0:06:450:06:50

Human rights groups say

there are thousands like them

0:06:500:06:53

in Egypt, families of

political prisoners.

0:06:540:06:58

His sister campaigns

against civilians being tried

0:06:580:07:00

in military courts.

0:07:000:07:09

His mother has been an activist for

decades. In this household,

0:07:090:07:16

percenters the family business

0:07:160:07:24

dissent

the family business

0:07:240:07:25

But she says the struggle for change

is harder than ever under

0:07:250:07:28

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

0:07:290:07:30

The level of bloodiness

is beyond anything I've ever

0:07:300:07:32

heard or experienced.

0:07:320:07:33

And the way they have managed

to desensitise people towards death,

0:07:330:07:36

to belittle the value of people's

lives, to make people get used

0:07:360:07:39

to death sentences, to forced

disappearances and abduction,

0:07:390:07:41

to torture, to torture victims,

this is becoming daily News.

0:07:410:07:50

Her brother has another year

to serve,

0:07:500:07:52

then faces a further five

years on probation with

0:07:520:07:54

stringent conditions.

0:07:550:07:58

In this tightly knit group,

the empty space at the table

0:07:580:08:01

is keenly felt.

0:08:010:08:17

these days on the streets, there is

no clamour for reform. Many are

0:08:170:08:22

struggling to get by. And grateful

the relative stability. And plenty

0:08:220:08:28

prefer not to raise their heads

above the parapet. With good reason.

0:08:280:08:35

Well, there is something that you

cannot see here that you can feel

0:08:350:08:39

and that his fear. It has been

increasing during my time here.

0:08:390:08:43

People who would have been ready to

speak on camera two or three years

0:08:430:08:47

ago are too frightened to do that

now. In the last few weeks we have

0:08:470:08:52

looked into many cases,

disappearances, torture, people

0:08:520:08:56

whose loved ones were killed in

custody, and those families were too

0:08:560:09:02

frightened to work here. They tell

us they are afraid and other loved

0:09:020:09:06

one will be arrested if they do. --

and other loved one.

0:09:060:09:12

Those who end up in custody

can expect the harshest treatment.

0:09:120:09:17

Torture is nothing new in Egypt. But

my sources say it is now routine

0:09:170:09:28

nationwide.

0:09:280:09:29

Mahmood Mohammed Hussein has

first-hand experience

0:09:290:09:30

of the latest torture techniques.

0:09:300:09:34

We first met one year ago when every

step was a reminder of the abuse he

0:09:340:09:40

suffered. He was held without trial

for more than two years. This is the

0:09:400:09:47

only reason he was arrested,

0:09:470:09:52

aged just 18, was

because of his T-shirt.

0:09:520:09:54

The slogan read "A nation

without torture".

0:09:540:09:56

now 22, he is struggling to rebuild

his life. But could still be tried

0:10:000:10:07

for attending a band protest. And

joining a terrorist group. Charges

0:10:070:10:11

he denies. -- banned. Despite the

risks, he wants to tell the world

0:10:110:10:19

his story.

0:10:190:10:20

Aren't you afraid that by speaking

out like this that the authorities

0:11:000:11:03

could come after you again?

0:11:030:11:05

Others also want their words to be

heard at feel unable to appear on

0:11:410:11:45

camera. Like another young man I met

who described being subjected to

0:11:450:11:51

every kind of abuse. He gave us a

detailed, credible and disturbing

0:11:510:11:59

account, he identified the police

station where he was interrogated

0:11:590:12:03

and tortured, he said he was beaten,

blindfolded, stripped, kicked, and

0:12:030:12:08

electrocuted. And later, in his

words, he discovered there was

0:12:080:12:13

something worse than electrocution,

he was raped with a stick. Torture

0:12:130:12:27

victims used to have one refuge. One

place to go for support. This centre

0:12:270:12:33

in Cairo. For over two decades,

staff provided rehabilitation. But

0:12:330:12:44

last year, the authorities moved in

and forced the Centre to close its

0:12:440:12:49

doors. Its co-founder, a

psychiatrist, says the prevalence of

0:12:490:12:58

torture is the worst she has ever

known.

I work in this field since

0:12:580:13:06

1993 and I have been hearing about

this field is in my university

0:13:060:13:11

years. What I have been seeing and

what might colleagues have been

0:13:110:13:17

seeing since 2013 is unheard of.

It

was never, ever that the. So how

0:13:170:13:26

widespread would you say the

practice is now?

As widespread as

0:13:260:13:30

the conflict. As widespread as the

country.

What would you say to

0:13:300:13:38

government officials here need you

to deny them as torture?

You are

0:13:380:13:41

liars. I would say you are liars. I

would say you know there is torture

0:13:410:13:49

because you practise it. What can I

say? And I would say that there will

0:13:490:13:58

come the day. Maybe I will not

witness the day but there will come

0:13:580:14:02

a day when those people will be

brought to justice.

But justice can

0:14:020:14:13

be elusive for anyone hidden behind

the Sun. That's what Egyptians call

0:14:130:14:20

those who vanished from the streets

and are held in secret by the state.

0:14:200:14:26

Most are Islamist but anyone

opposing the regime is at risk.

0:14:260:14:31

Human rights campaigners say

enforced disappearances are a

0:14:310:14:36

trademark of the Abdel Fattah

al-Sisi era. They have documented at

0:14:360:14:43

least 1500 cases in the last quarter

years. But they believe the real

0:14:430:14:47

figure is much higher. -- last four

years. Most of the disappeared and

0:14:470:15:01

merge weeks or months later in

custody, facing terrorism charges.

0:15:010:15:07

But some remain hidden. But this

man's brother who has been gone

0:15:070:15:13

since July 2013. A bill says his

brother, Mohammad Amir, was an

0:15:130:15:26

engineering student who disappeared

as an Islamist protest aged 22. He

0:15:260:15:30

tells me witnesses saw him being

taken away by the security forces.

0:15:300:15:36

The years of fruitless searching

since then have been a torment for

0:15:360:15:41

his family.

0:15:410:15:43

Their father, Ibrahim, a lawyer, has

been fighting a lonely battle for

0:16:090:16:17

Egypt's disappeared. He founded an

association for families of the

0:16:170:16:20

victims. Last September, he set off

for Geneva, to address a United

0:16:200:16:30

Nations working group on

disappearances. However, at Cairo

0:16:300:16:35

airport he is well joined the ranks

of the disappeared and was later

0:16:350:16:38

discovered in jail. The lawyer is

now being held here in the full

0:16:380:16:47

bidding prison complex in Cairo. His

family says he has been tortured. --

0:16:470:17:00

across town after nightfall, a

journey to yet another broken

0:17:020:17:04

family. We are on our way to see a

mother who has a truly terrible

0:17:040:17:12

story to tell. We have been in touch

with her over the last few weeks and

0:17:120:17:17

we have arranged to sit down with

her tonight. She lives in a suburb

0:17:170:17:21

out near the pyramids so we are them

now. -- headed there now. This is a

0:17:210:17:33

student of 23 who wants to open her

own business. Her mother says that

0:17:330:17:40

she and her daughter were arrested

near a demonstration in 2014 and

0:17:400:17:46

convicted of offences including

attending a band protest. She says

0:17:460:17:50

they were in the wrong place at the

wrong time and spent seven months in

0:17:500:17:55

jail but were later acquitted. She

tells me that in 2016, is a glider

0:17:550:18:02

was detained again at a police

checkpoint and disappeared. -- her

0:18:020:18:06

daughter was detained again. She was

dumped by the roadside after 28 days

0:18:060:18:12

a changed girl.

0:18:120:18:23

But her legal papers show the

anguish did not end there. As she

0:18:500:18:56

was struggling to recover, she

disappeared for the second time last

0:18:560:18:58

April. Her mother says neighbours

saw her being taken by armed and

0:18:580:19:10

masked police.

0:19:100:19:14

She seeks comfort now in her

daughter's bedroom. And in mementos

0:19:360:19:43

from the past.

0:19:430:19:46

Her treasured keepsakes are just as

she left them are waiting for her

0:20:030:20:07

return. Her mother refuses to give

up hope, refuses to be silenced.

0:20:070:20:17

We wanted to ask the authorities

about her daughter 's disappearance

0:20:560:21:02

and the other cases in this report.

We approached the Interior Ministry,

0:21:020:21:08

the Foreign Ministry and the state

information service. No-one was

0:21:080:21:11

prepared to be interviewed. In the

past, the authorities have told me

0:21:110:21:19

there is no systematic torture. But

if mistakes are made, offices are

0:21:190:21:26

punished. They have also denied

there are enforced disappearances

0:21:260:21:32

and widespread human rights abuses.

0:21:320:21:37

On the banks of the Nile, there is

little hint of change. Egypt looks

0:21:400:21:45

locked in the past. Elections are

coming but the President does not

0:21:450:21:53

need to worry about the outcome.

Several potential to help meet

0:21:530:21:58

challenges have been intimidated out

of the race. -- potential

0:21:580:22:04

challengers. Many here are concerned

about security and the bomb attacks

0:22:040:22:09

by the so-called Islamic State. The

president says he is waging war on

0:22:090:22:13

terror. But human rights campaigners

say he is using that as a pretext to

0:22:130:22:21

wage war on dissent. Having been

here for over four years I know a

0:22:210:22:29

lot of the problems that Egypt is

facing. There are real economic

0:22:290:22:34

issues. There are serious security

threats from Islamic State. But this

0:22:340:22:39

is the most populous country in the

Arab world and if Egypt cannot steer

0:22:390:22:43

a course towards real democracy,

that is the problem for the Middle

0:22:430:22:47

East and a problem for the West. I

am leaving him with questions. How

0:22:470:22:52

long before all of the repression

here starts to backfire? And how

0:22:520:22:58

many more prisons and the regime

feel? -- fill?

0:22:580:23:13

Featuring news programmes on current issues around the world. Leading challengers have been harassed out of the March 2018 presidential race in Egypt and Abdel Fattah al-Sisi looks guaranteed to be re-elected. Critics accuse him of an unprecedented assault on human rights. They say mass arrests, torture and 'disappearances' are hallmarks of his regime. With press freedom under attack much of the brutality goes unseen. The BBC's Cairo correspondent Orla Guerin meets victims and their families.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS