Commemorating the first anniversary of torture victim Essam Atta, Nation Without Torture organised an event on Saturday evening in Al-Mansour street, just a few metres away from the Ministry of Interior’s headquarters.
The event wasn’t only organised in memory of Atta, a driver who was tortured to death in prison last November, but in memory of all torture victims.
“We’re here to remind everybody that such crimes do not fall within the statute of limitation,” Alaa Abdel Fattah, blogger and rights activist who attended the event, said, “we will fight for everyone tortured since the creation of Egypt and we shall retrieve their rights even if it takes us a hundred years.”
Al-Mansour street was fenced with human chains, with people of different ages holding banners featuring Arabic calligraphy calling for an end to torture. Protesters were encircled by the chains, their number increasing as the event continued.
“The Ministry of Interior still see themselves as pashas,” Mennatallah Abdel Meguid, a young lady taking part in the human chain, said, “last weekend, a police officer in Assiut forced a shoe into one detainee’s mouth.”
Abdel Mugeid stressed that torture still exists even after the January 2011 revolution, adding that the authorities still cannot comprehend that “we are human beings. But they shall be made to understand.”
Abdel Mugeid attended Atta’s funeral as well as multiple other revolutionary events. She was holding a banner which read; “Essam and Khaled and Belal were killed by the torture of the bastards” in reference to Atta, Khaled Said and Said Belal, all torture victims who were killed at the hands of the police.
The stage was playing songs about imprisonment and police abuse until speakers started taking the floor. Khaled Said’s mother Laila Marzouk were among those who spoke.
“Only one year separates the death of Atta and Khaled,” she said, “yet I never feel that Khaled is gone; he’s everywhere.”
Marzouk called for the release of all those still detained, calling their detention “the thing that aches me the most” and reminding President Mohamed Morsy that he had promised to release them.
“I urge you all to call for the freedom of Mohamed Wadie’ for his parents are worn out,” Marzouk said, referring to the officer among the 8 April officers; a group of military officers who were arrested for taking part in a protest in April, 2011.
The event organisers were lined up behind a booth, distributing flyers about the campaign and No Military Trials stickers with the photo of Atta.
“We chose Atta’s anniversary as an event through which we could launch our campaign,” Ahmed Yousry, programme and workshops coordinator at Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC), said, adding that the funds of the event came from volunteers working in the campaign alongside other campaigns such as Try Them and The Free Egyptian.
“We decided to launch this anti-torture campaign after the end of Morsy’s first three months in power, the period of time he promised to be done with his 100-days program.”
Yousry stated that by the end of the three months, 33 people were killed during their police detention.
Starting 14 October, the Nation Without Torture campaign started pressuring authorities on torture cases filed since 25 January 2011.
Atta was arrested in February 2011 near Al-Moqattam heights, where he was involved in a fight and accused of stealing an apartment. The 23 year old was tried in a military tribunal and sentenced to two years imprisonment. He was severely tortured in October following a visit from his mother. He died a day later.