EGYPT

Who wants you to see these torture videos?

Blogger Wael Abbas has published footage of a man being tortured in what he says is an Egyptian police station. The horrific scenes seem not to have greatly shocked the Egyptian public. Our Observers there, however, are asking why, and for whom, these images were filmed. Please be aware that this post includes images which you may find upsetting.

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Blogger Wael Abbas has published footage of a man being tortured in what he says is an Egyptian police station. The horrific scenes seem not to have greatly shocked the Egyptian public. Our Observers there, however, are asking why and for whom these images were filmed.

Please be aware that this post includes images which you may find upsetting.

Wael, who works often with such documents, published the images last Wednesday. He says that the scene appears to have taken place in the Ad-Dawahi police station in the harbour town of Port Said, situated at the mouth of the Suez Canal. His source, which he says is reliable but prefers to remain anonymous, does not know when the scene took place but affirms that the torturer is the station commissioner, Mohamed Abu Ghazala.

Contacted by FRANCE 24, activists from the Port Said branch of the NGO Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said that they have tried to find the victim in the video, but nobody has come forward. They told us that acts of torture at the hands of the station commissioner in question had already been documented by the group. Interestingly, they also told us, the victim does not have the local accent of the Port Said province.

We decided not to publish the torture videos on The Observers. The footage shows a person hung by their wrists in an interrogation room.

He begs his torturer to stop. "Please Mohamed Bey [an old-fashioned dignitary address from the Ottoman empire], stop, I'm going to die. I'm not an animal. I'm a human being."

The officer replies, "Shut up you son of a bitch".

Here are some screen grabs of the scene.

“It’s the authorities themselves who leaked this video. The point is to intimidate people”

Samir (not his real name) is a freelance journalist from Cairo.

This video is certainly authentic. Any Egyptian will tell you that torture is commonplace in the country.

I believe it's the authorities themselves who leaked this video. The point is to intimidate people.

We have a saying in Egypt that goes "Break those who are chained up, and those who aren't will be scared."

The images eventually make it round the web. The same kind of technique was used in Latin America in the 60s and 70s; only it was purely tales that were leaked. In the 80s, regimes began leaking images. And since 2004, they've used YouTube to get their message across.

I think it's mainly a case of police officers passing the documents on to people who then pass them on to bloggers who are looking to "reveal" them. But really they've been roped into the officers' game.

“The guy who filmed the scene could be an officer or a detainee”

Wael Abbas was the first to publish the videos, on his blog, Misr Digital.

There are several possibilities as to who published these videos.

They might have been leaked by people in the authorities or police force who want to condemn what happened.

It's also possible that they got out by accident. In the past few years with so many camera phones, officers have started filming what they think are funny situations. One of these officers might have had his phone stolen. Or maybe it was broken and he sent it to be serviced. It's well known in Egypt that phone mechanics often upload the content of a phone while they're fixing it. 

The guy who filmed the scene could be an officer or a detainee. We've already had cases of footage filmed by prisoners from guys who've bribed officers into letting them keep their phones.

Torture is becoming an accepted policy in Egypt. There are numerous accounts of people having made forced confessions, amongst them the highly publicised case of actress Habiba. She was married to a businessman from Qatar who was killed in 1998. Habiba was arrested following the murder and then tortured, where she confessed to being guilty, subsequently receiving a ten-year jail sentence [of which she served five years]. The real killers were eventually found some years later when they tried to sell off items stolen during the crime.