Bloggers Expose Torture in Egypt

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting article today about Egyptian bloggers posting cell phone videos to document endemic police torture in their country (thanks to 3arabawy for the tip). The most recent iteration of this phenomenon is a clip of a thirteen-year-old boy from Mansoura who died from injuries inflicted in police custody after he was arrested for stealing a few bags of tea a week earlier:

The explicit 13-minute clip is the latest of some dozen amateur videos - mostly from cell phone cameras - that have surfaced on blogs within the past year, showing systematic torture in Egyptian police stations. The videos have thrust a once rarely mentioned subject onto the front pages of Cairo newspapers.

Some activists hope the incriminating videos will spur a wave of reforms within the justice system.

"Activists that have worked to end torture have told me: 'You've done more in a few days what we were not able to do in 10 years,'" said Wael Abbas, a 32-year-old Egyptian blogger, who recently received the 2007 Knight International Journalism Award by the International Center for Journalists in Washington for posting police torture videos on his Web site.

It's encouraging to see the continued influence of bloggers on the mainstream press in Egypt, but it's been rough couple of month for journalists and activists of every stripe. If you're interested, the Christian Science Monitor has some informative reports on the recent crackdown (here and here).


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Police sentenced to 3 years each for torturing bus driver

Only yesterday this news emerged:

"Two Egyptian policemen have been jailed for three years each for torturing a bus driver during police custody. The police officers filmed the sexual assault of Emad al-Kebir, 22, on a mobile phone. The footage eventually emerged on the internet. The case is one of several notorious incidents of abuse by the security forces to be uncovered in Egypt, mostly driven by activist bloggers."

It's taken a year for this to happen - last year I wrote a piece about the work of Wael Abbas and Hossam el-Hamalawy and others that can be seen here: