CAIRO: Messages from detained Muslim Brotherhood figures were read out at a conference at the University of Tennessee last week, where the wives of the detainees demanded international action to free them.
“Please forgive me, I chose to be with the president,” said Sarah Attia, reading a message from her husband Khalid al-Kazaz, the secretary of former president Mohamed Morsi, at the April 14 conference, called “Democracy and Human Rights in Egypt.”
Attia said the message, written on a scrap of tattered paper, was written by her husband in prison, where pens and paper are not allowed, and he was unable to get medication. She said that she had not spoken to her husband face to face since the “military coup,” but received small messages every few days.
“Khaled was an activist…who dreamed of a better life for all,” she said.
Many members of the group are standing trial on charges of inciting violence and killing protestors. Morsi is on trial in three separate cases concurrently, and is placed inside a glass cage in the court room so he will be unable to interrupt proceedings.
The Muslim Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government on Dec. 25, 2013.
A number of activists were also jailed and detained following the entry into force of the protest law and the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution. Many alleged experiencing torture in prison, including heavy beatings, electroshocks, and being kept in overcrowded and filthy cells.
Sixteen Egyptian human rights organizations signed a joint declaration in early February calling for the police to adhere to humanitarian standards and cease the use of torture.
“Recent media claims that some detainees filed a complaint against the Interior Ministry, claiming they suffered from torture or bad treatment inside prisons and police stations, are untrue,” a February statement from the Ministry of Interior read.
The Ministry added that “all state institutions are ready to receive any complaint from any prisoner in Egyptian prisons to investigate them and take necessary measures against guilty policemen, out of care to enhance principles of human rights and preserve citizens’ dignity.”
Detainees in Wadi al-Natroun prison, totaling 250, sent a written message to the people to show their suffering, and said that they would begin a hunger strike against their “arbitrary detention,” Al Kahera News Gate reported April 2014.