My Egyptian Pharaoh … let my people go!!
Dear Mr. President, I’m sure you are a very busy man these days, running a big country like Egypt is not an easy task, lots of responsibilities; rigging election is hard work, convincing million of people that digging 20 miles tranche is a new Suez canal is a moral burden, politicizing the justice system is time consuming, keeping Egypt from becoming Syria is a full time job that I’m sure requires arresting oppositions, jailing journalists, shutting down media, suspending parliament, getting ready of the entrenched Muslims brotherhood becoming your biggest battle, working on modernizing the Islamic world is now your greatest jihad to get into the international recognition.
Mr. President now I got your attention, my name is Ahmed Tharwat, although I have been living in the United States for more than 30 years and I still feel a close connection to my native country. I am writing on behalf of my nephew Hassan in Egypt. Hassan as thousands of young Egyptians like him whom were arrested during the crackdown on protestors almost three years ago in August. Continue reading An Open letter to General Al-Sisi … My Egyptian Pharaoh … Let My Nephew GO!!
By Ahmed Tharwat
The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report has brought back painful memories. Now everyone knows that our government has “tortured some folks,” as President Obama has put it when he wanted to be homey and cute. As someone who was tortured himself in an Egyptian jail, such charm is wasted on me. And contrary to what CIA director confusing knowable and unknowable thing, nothing is unknowable about Torture; The emotional and physical details remain vivid in my memory even after more than 40 years.
I was a freshman at Cairo High School. Anti-government protests were a daily routine on Egyptian streets. I was too young to grasp the serious political implication of such events. Like most students my age, I was just glad classes were canceled that day.
Thousands of students poured into the streets from schools all over Cairo. But after shouting a few anti-government slogans at Tahrir Sqaure, my friends and I moved away from the crowd to a side street in the affluent Garden City suburb. Without any warning we were rounded up by the Egyptian secret police (The Mukhabarat), who were zealously trying to fill their daily quota of random arrests.
We were lined up with common criminals in front of the police station . A tall, handsome police colonel standing at the front started shouting the worst kind of profanities at us, his harsh words quickly extended to our families and parents. Without thinking and in a fearful voice I protested the excessive profanity, Unfortunately, the colonel took issue with my soft protest; what happened after that has changed my life forever and shattered my faith in authority.
The angry police colonel stopped his verbal humiliation and without looking at me, he ordered one of his guards to take me away to … “the room.” The guard knew exactly where to take me; inside the prison, it was a small, dark, smelly, windowless, cold room, stripped naked out of any human sign. The dark silence in the room seemed as if it has witnessed lots of broken souls.
Shortly, the colonel entered the room, where he calmly and without uttering a word or acknowledging my presence, closed the door, picked up a big riot stick and started hitting me savagely and indiscriminately. I stood helplessly, overwhelmed by the colonel’s outrage; the severity of the beating escalated until my skin started peeling off my body before my own eyes. I lost my feeling and any connection to my body. My confusing thoughts were trapped with no place to go.
I wasn’t trying to be a hero, I couldn’t muster any words, I couldn’t scream or resist. I couldn’t understand the colonel’s anger and outrage, but I knew he had a free hand to do to me whatever he pleased in that room.
He didn’t ask my name, he never looked me in the eyes, he never explained my crime.
I was a nameless, faceless object, as I stood motionless and void of any rights or expression.
I wasn’t the usual suspect — a communist, a Jihadist or a government agitator. This wasn’t a national security issue, it was personal insecurity issue; it wasnt an interrogation for valuable information, The Colonel, unaccustomed to the slightest challenge, needed to break my will. He wanted me to beg for mercy, he needed a complete conquest.
My silence was deafening, and as the colonel grew more infuriated, he started getting more creative in his abuse. His relentless physical torture made his early verbal profanity seem like a friendly conversation. There is nothing more humiliating than unjust physical abuse.
I couldn’t resist or retaliate, his savage hitting destroyed my ability to express my pain. At the time, I wished he would mix his severe beating with some verbal humiliation.
After what seemed like an eternity, the beating suddenly stopped and without saying a word, the colonel stormed out of the torture room. He couldn’t stay and face his unbroken victim. I found myself standing alone licking my wounds, only to realize for the first time that the guard who brought me to the room was still there; he was standing in the corner wiping his tears. His display of sadness brought a much-needed touch of humanity to the torture chamber.
I often wondered how my brief confrontation with this colonel could generate so much fury against a helpless young boy. He was not following any orders; he was the whole chain of command. I now realize we were both victims.
I was a victim of unjust violence and abuse. He was a victim of his sadistic obsession with violence and his intoxication with power. I was physically paralyzed for weeks. He was morally paralyzed for life.
There weren’t any digital camera to tell what happened inside the torture room that day; all these years, my own memory has had to carry the entire load … alone; … this is the real torture.
This piece written in solidarity of all political prisoners in Egypt, under Sisi Regime…including my 18 year old nephew… Hassan Aladawy
Producer/Host of the Arab American TV Show Belahdan
Until Today I haven’t been able to walk by that police station, or even in the area, …although my house not so far distant from there… I hope one day, be able to visit the police station and see that room, .. revisit, the smell, dirty wall the physical decays and changes in the 100 shade of grays in the torture room… that is the real closure!!
Links where it was published
International Herold/ Egypt
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I received this poetic letter from an Egyptian mother, where Abo Elbaraa, her 16 year old son was arrested , 1/12/2014 sent to detention in EL Merg, Mansoura, (my home town) put on trial as an adult, tortured, and abused in prison… ,he was accused of threatening national security for flashing Rabaa sign being in one of the protests that is taken place daily in Egypt. I cant verify her story but what is going on in Egypt now… I have seen worst…!! please give her a word of support.
Mother of Albaraa
Salam Alykom,/Peace Upon You
Dear Mr. Ahmed
It is very hard for me to tell my son story… it is a story of a young kid who filled my life with love and kindness .,on Jan/ 12/2014, at night, the security came brook the door, stormed into my house, and without any warning or explanation, they snatched my son away, as everyone in the house was in shocked, my son vanished in the dark.
Since his missing, I feel like a prisoner without any sight, walking aimlessly on an endless road, ..looking for a smile, lost in a sea of sadness, breathing air that is suffocating me.
My son was gentle young man , loving and giving kid…, loved by everyone.. he never had any grudges, loves the younger and respect the older.. ,
He loves to inspire his friends to do the right things, and steer them away from unseemingly ways. Missed by his friends, and relatives and wishing him all the best… and safe return, with all prisoners in Egypt.
Om Albaraa, Mother of Albaraa
“Please call my mother and let her know that security is taking me away, .. I have no idea where they are taking me” , that was the last words heard from Albaraa to Rania Abd El Mouman , a friend with the mother, who was released from the same detention with Albaraa