CAIRO: Seventeen inmates at Borg El Arab Prison in Alexandria, were physically attacked by prison guards on Tuesday to force them to end the hunger strike they began on Monday, a rights advocate and lawyer told Daily News Egypt.
“Prison guards entered their cells on Tuesday and started beating them, said lawyer Ahmed Ezzat from the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, who represents some of the detainees.
“When I went to see them on Saturday they told me about the assault but I was unable to gauge the full extent of their injuries because they would have had to remove their clothes for examination, he continued.
The 17 men are all being held in detention under emergency law. They began the hunger strike in protest at being held without charge, but called it off after the alleged assault.
Rights groups have repeatedly condemned the Egyptian government’s continued renewal of the 27-year-old state of emergency which empowers security bodies to search, arrest and detain people without respecting due process guarantees.
According to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, thousands of individuals are being held without charge in continually-renewed administrative detention.
Nine of the seventeen men are being held in connection with the clashes which broke out in the Delta town of Mahalla on April 6 and 7, 2008 when security bodies violently quashed demonstrations against rising food prices.
A public prosecution office ordered their release on June 2. The order was not carried out, and administrative detention orders were issued against them on June 5, 2008.
Last week the Mahalla public prosecution office referred 49 individuals, including the nine assaulted on Tuesday, for trial in a state security court on what their lawyers allege are trumped-up charges.
It is believed that the first hearing will take place in August.
A military order issued in 1981 (the year the state of emergency was declared) allows public prosecution offices to transfer the hearing of cases to state security courts. These are exceptional courts which, critics say, do not provide a fair trial.