US-Supported Egyptian Military Dictatorship Imprisons Egyptian Bloggers and Activists


Clearly, the US has decided that stability is more important than democracy and human rights in Egypt. For decades we’ve been very close with the corrupt, elite Egyptian defense forces all the while turning our backs while they entrenched themselves in every aspect of civil and economic society. That they detained, tortured and killed anyone who spoke out against the regime was of little concern to the United States so long as they allowed us to “render” terrorism suspects to Egypt to be tortured and so long as they played nice with Israel.

Now Mubarak is gone but the same dictatorial system is in place:

It took tens of thousands of Egyptians to upend the 31-year rule of Hosni Mubarak in the Arab world’s most populous country. Can a single dissident curb the authoritarian inclinations of Egypt’s current military rulers during what is supposed to be a democratic transition?

Alaa Abdel-Fattah, a blogger turned political activist, is trying to do just that, by challenging the military authorities’ right to prosecute civilians.

His case stems from controversy surrounding the terrifying breakup of a Coptic-Christian-led demonstration in Cairo on Oct. 9. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, which has run Egypt since Mubarak’s Feb. 11 ouster, put itself in charge of investigating the violence.

[snip]

He was detained because he has refused to cooperate with military prosecutors. By doing so, he is striking at one of the lengthening list of powers the army is reserving for itself even as Egypt prepares for parliamentary elections, constitution-writing, and an eventual presidential election. Since Mubarak’s downfall, military courts have tried about 11,000 Egyptians. Defendants in Egyptian military courts usually have no access to counsel of their own choosing. Judges in the military justice system are military officers subject to a chain of command and cannot easily ignore instructions from superiors.

The SCAF has kept in place emergency laws that were a mainstay of Mubarak’s rule, and penal code provisions that provide incarceration for such supposed crimes as besmirching Egypt’s image or insulting the president. The generals have added to these repressive laws by decreeing strikes illegal, and prosecuted activists for criticizing the military. Some detainees have been tortured in custody. The SCAF also proposed a “draft guide” to a new constitution that would give the military effective veto over its articles and keep future military budgets off-limits to public scrutiny.

[snip]

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on Nov. 11 called on Egyptian authorities to free him “and all others who have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights to free speech and association” and expressed concern “about what appears to be a diminishing public space for freedom of expression and association” in Egypt.

The Obama administration has not called for Abdel-Fattah’s release.

The US insists it is “urging” the Egyptian military to loosen its control in these matters but of course, they say that they did that for decades under Mubarak. The fact of the matter is, our government would probably prefer military rule with all the ugliness it entails to some pro-democracy upstart becoming President because a truly democratic system in Egypt would mean that the people would actually be able to have a say in Egyptian policies, including foreign policy. Unfortunately for the US, most Egyptians are tired of being used as American and Israeli puppets. Imagine that! Of course, despite the fact that it is likely that any elected leader is a proponent of political Islam, we seem to be insistent on doing everything we can, probably via the Egyptian military, to ensure that Islamic political parties don’t make a strong showing in any future elections. Can you imagine if Egyptian or Tunisian leaders tried to sway our elections here at home, all in the name of “democracy?”

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

View all posts by Stacy

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