In recent days, millions of Egyptians have erupted and flowed into the streets demanding an end to President Mubarak’s three decade rule…demanding an end to the tyranny, intimidation, top-level corruption and torture that this tourist mecca & civilisation with ancient roots has had to tolerate for so long.
Tyrannical behaviour often tolerated…and given both tacit & overt approval of the United States, Israel & other, so called, “civilised” nations over the years.
Torture camp Egypt, as I’ve referred to it previously, was used by a grateful Neo-Con government, under the chaotic rule of President GW Bush, for grotesque rendition purposes…as Marjorie Cohn in her article US Chickens Come Home to Roost describes it:
…Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief whom Mubarak just named Vice-President, was the lynchpin for Egyptian torture when the CIA sent prisoners to Egypt in its extraordinary rendition program. Stephen Grey noted in Ghost Plane, “[I]n secret, men like Omar Suleiman, the country’s most powerful spy and secret politician, did our work, the sort of work that Western countries have no appetite to do ourselves.”
In her chapter in the newly published book, “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse,” Jane Mayer cites Egypt as the most common destination for suspects rendered by the United States. “The largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid after Israel,” Mayer writes, “Egypt was a key strategic ally, and its secret police force, the Mukhabarat, had a reputation for brutality.” She describes the rendering of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi to Egypt, where he was tortured and made a false confession that Colin Powell cited as he importuned the Security Council to approve the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted his confession.
The State Department’s 2002 report on Egypt noted that detainees were “stripped and blindfolded; suspended from a ceiling or doorframe with feet just touching the floor; beaten with fists, metal rods, or other objects; doused with hot or cold water; flogged on the back; burned with cigarettes; and subjected to electrical shocks. Some victims . . . [were] forced to strip and threatened with rape.”
In 2005, the United Nations Committee Against Torture found that “Egypt resorted to consistent and widespread use of torture against detainees” and “the risk of such treatment was particularly high in the case of detainees held for political and security reasons.”
About a year ago, an Italian judge convicted 22 CIA operatives and a U.S. Air Force colonel of arranging the kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan in 2003, then flying him to Egypt where he was tortured. Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr told Human Rights Watch he was “hung up like a slaughtered sheep and given electrical shocks” in Egypt. “I was brutally tortured and I could hear the screams of others who were tortured too,” he added.
A former CIA agent observed, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt.”
Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, has also felt the wrath of American & Egyptian justice…and in the process the Australian government shamed our country. Richard Neville provides some of the sickening details in his revealing piece The Torturer’s Apprentice:
In Egypt, where torture seems to be a government sport, Habib was interrogated by the country’s Intelligence Director, General Omar Suleiman, whose is ranked second in power to President Hosni Mubarak. Back in 2001, Suleiman took a personal interest in anyone suspected of links with Al Qaeda. As Habib had visited Afghanistan shortly before 9/11, he was under suspicion. Suleiman slapped Habib’s face so hard, the blindfold was dislodged, revealing the torturer’s identity. According to his memoir, Habib was repeatedly zapped with high-voltage electricity, immersed in water up to his nostrils, beaten, his fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks.
He was again interrogated by Omar Suleiman. To loosen Habib’s tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a gruesomely shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib – and he did, with a vicious karate kick. Suleiman is expected to be the next President of Egypt.
According to My Story, ASIO agents and other Australian officials visited Habib in Egypt (“David” and “Stewart” are two of the names provided). ASIO had previously raided Habib’s Sydney home, and delivered the results to his Egyptian torturers: phone numbers, bank statements, SIM cards, a laptop, tapes of private conversations, his address book, etc. On the face of it, this is a blatant breach of article 4 of CAT. In Federal Court hearings, Habib’s lawyers stated that Australian officials were not only complicit in Habib’s torture, but were active participants.
During his time in Government, Attorney General Phillip Ruddock repeatedly denied he was ever aware of Habib’s whereabouts, as did PM John Howard and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.
Unfortunately, rather than President Mubarak taking the rational approach & recognising that for a peaceful political transition he needs to step aside and accept his hard man regime will no longer be tolerated by the masses…Mubarak has decided to resist the urgings of the bulk of his people, indicating he will remain in power until the next election.
Going by the viciousness of the attacks on anti-Mubarak crowds today by his supporters, one can only wonder if this is part of a desperate strategy to force some of the regime’s opposition into calling upon more extremist Islamic elements in order to protect themselves and try to overthrow the government.
Mubarak, and others behind the scenes, are possibly sowing further seeds of hate & discontent in order to provoke such a violent reaction from those who have been to date restrained & peaceful demonstrators…so his regime can turn to the Egyptian military and demand an end to “the chaos that is an indication of what the future will bring if we allow this government to fall”…and then resort to the use of Chinese government-style tactics to crush the rebellion…as we saw occur with Tiananmen Square protests in 1989…and in Burma during 2007.
One can imagine how today’s Egyptian street battles will feed into the tactics of those who use “anti-Muslim” propaganda and fear-mongering in order to convince other nations to support despots & tyrants such as Mubarak in order to stomp on any protest movements in Islam-dominated states in case regime changes put their own privileges & security at possible further risk.
In a passionate response to the violence, Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei has called for a continuation of the peaceful resistance:
“After today people are realising just what they’re dealing with,” added the 68-year-old. “Now they’re not just talking about the man responsible leaving the country, they’re also talking about putting him on trial. If he has an iota of dignity left, he should leave. Mubarak has received a vote of no confidence by the entire Egyptian people … I hope he has the intelligence to realise that it is better for him to leave now before the country continues to go down the drain, economically and socially.”
Despite the bloodshed, ElBaradei called on pro-change demonstrators to continue taking to the streets in huge numbers. “I think Friday will be a very big day in that respect. But even if they don’t, even if they are repressed and crushed, there is still no going back. This is a new era – just look in protesters’ eyes. The Egyptians have grown in confidence, they’ve tasted freedom, and there’s no way back.”
Further global economic complications have arisen due to the increase in oil prices triggered partly by the instability in Egypt…and the severe winter weather in America.
Hopefully sanity will prevail and Mubarak will stand down and permit the more democratic leaders of Egypt to usher in a new & vibrant era. Enough blood has been shed in this region to last many lifetimes. The children deserve better.
It’s time for democracy to bloom on this fertile ground…just as agriculture did along the Nile many years ago.