CAIRO: Two Helwan University students have filed a legal complaint against police officers they say physically assaulted them on the university campus.
Nagy Kamel and Mostafa Shawqy, both engineering students and members of the Resistance Students, a socialist activist group, presented the complaint on Monday.
On the same day, some 20 Helwan University students held a silent protest outside the public prosecutor’s office amidst a heavy security presence.
Kamel described the assault, which allegedly occurred on Wednesday Nov. 5, to Daily News Egypt. “As I was entering the faculty of engineering Brigadier Colonel Abdallah Fawaz from the National Guard Forces and roughly seven officers were at the door of the faculty.
“Fawaz asked me for my ID card which I showed to them. They then searched me and my bag. I protested that it was not their right to do this. They handcuffed me, and Fawaz together with lieutenant colonel Mohammed Hamdy and the others insulted me and physically assaulted me in front of their office.
Roughly an hour after this Shawqy alleges that he too was assaulted.
He says in the complaint presented to the public prosecutor that he too was stopped at the faculty gates and asked for his ID card, which he showed them.
“They then tried to search me and push me towards the wall of the faculty building. When I objected to this they started hitting me, smashed my glasses and tore up my books, the complaint reads.
Kamel says that he and Shawqy were targeted because of their political activity on campus.
The assault took place a day after Resistance Students members held a seminar in which they discussed and criticized the policies of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), while the NDP held its annual conference.
In addition, Kamel says that Resistance Students’ activities on campus, such as talks and protests about administrative and other problems within Helwan University, have increased recently.
He attributes the security clampdown to this increase in activity.
“We are active inside the university and know that what they’re doing is an attempt to stop our activity. There’s an atmosphere of fear amongst students in the faculty of engineering.
Both students and university teaching staff in Egyptian public universities say that interference by state security bodies in university affairs is routine, with students alleging that security bodies vet candidates in student union elections and remove leftist and Muslim Brotherhood nominees.
Resistance Students members are calling for the exclusion of state security personnel from university campuses.
“We are calling for the implementation of the university bylaw’s article 79, which provides that the university’s security staff must be members of the university’s internal security staff and wear badges identifying them as such, Kamel said.
“Security personnel from the interior ministry have no place inside the university. Their presence is illegal, and their actions are in violation of our constitutional right to freedom of expression.
Kamel alleges that state security officers intimidate activist students.
“State security telephone activist students and their families and threaten them with expulsion, as well as pressure university staff into making up charges against us in order to get us suspended or expelled.
Kamel says that he himself has previously been suspended for two weeks because of what he alleges are trumped-up charges brought against him.
He and three other members of the Resistance Students are also being subject to disciplinary measures on charges of physically assaulting members of security forces.
The three students are alleged to have attacked a group of 15 men, charges which Kamel called “a farce.
He says that students have no means of redress within the university.
“When I spoke to the faculty dean and told him about the assault he said, ‘you deserve it. It’s the right of security to search students and you deserve what happened to you’.
“The university administration cannot take any decision without the approval of security bodies. This is the situation throughout Egyptian universities because faculty deans are only appointed if they have been approved by state security.
Kamel says that politically active students at Helwan University are threatened by security staff both on and off campus.
“Security interference has increased recently in Helwan University. Any student known to be involved in political activity . is approached by security staff and told, ‘your name is such and such, and you live at such and such an address, and if you don’t stop what you’re doing there’ll be consequences.