CAIRO: “A week has passed since Esraa’s disappearance and we do not know anything about her; a week and our life has stopped on the day she was kidnapped…where is Esraa?!”
Hanaa Ali, mother of a 23-year-old student Esraa el-Taweel, wrote on her Facebook account calling on authorities to reveal her daughter’s whereabouts.
El-Taweel, who is recovering from a leg injury, was reported missing on June 1 along with two others; Sohaib Saad and Omar Mohamed, who were together in a dinner in Cairo’s upscale district of Maadi. The three of them are still missing.
Her mother told The Cairo Post Monday “we have reported to prosecution and police stations; unofficial sources told us she is at homeland security agency.”
“Really, I don’t know what kind of danger a handicapped young girl could make…she is not a political activist but only an amateur photographer,” her father Mahfouz said on “Where is Esraa el-Taweel?” Facebook page.
Islamist Activist, Magdy Ashour, who was featured in the Oscar-nominated movie “The Square,” was reported arbitrarily arrested in June 2.
Similar stories of other people, recently disappeared, have surfaced by their relatives and activists on social media; activists said they were either “arbitrarily arrested” from homes without “official warrants” or “kidnapped” by security forces.
At least 163 disappearances were reported since April, 64 of them were found, while two died, according to the Freedom for the Brave, a group dedicated to assist detainees. Human Rights Monitor group has spotted at least 44 cases since April, 31 of whom has disappeared in May only.
Social media activists suggested that the current disappearance wave has to do with the April 6 Movement’s call for a nationwide “civil disobedience” on June 11 against the current political and economic conditions. On June 3, Alexandria activist Dalia Radwan was released after being “forcedly disappeared” for four days; she is now facing charges of belonging to an outlawed group “April 6 Movement” and of calling for June 11 protests, said Freedom for the Brave group.
On the other hand, other rights activists, in Monday statements to The Cairo Post, referred to the issue as one of the old tactics of national homeland security agency.
‘Dawn visitors’ recalled
The expression ‘Dawn visitors’ was long referred to late night arrests by forces of the former state security agency to political activists and Islamists at their homes per the then-applied emergency law. Rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer told The Cairo Post “what we are witnessing now is worse.”
Baqer went on explaining that new legislations such as the protest law and terrorist entities’ law contribute to the crime of the “enforced disappearance” claiming that charges that activists are facing are drafted upon these laws.
He added that forced disappearance takes place during what he called “seasons” saying that “some 170 students were arrested days before the academic year 2014-2015 begins.”
There might be similar waves on June 30, July 3 and the anniversary of Rabaa al-Adawiya dispersal on August 14, Baqer said.
Missing victims claimed as “terrorists”
In a previous Facebook post, Baqer explained the illegal incarceration process saying that “the missing person appears a few days later with signs of torture, accused of terrorism-related charges and forced to be photographed in possession of weapons.”
“Then, he is presented before the prosecution, which decides on his remand detention, but the prosecution turns a blind eye to the period of his enforced disappearance or to the marks of torture,” he added.
Azhar Cleric Anas Sultan, known for his participation in 2011 revolution, was arrested along with his two brothers on May 26, and appeared on May 30 with charges of “belonging to terrorist group, attacking public utilities and inciting against police and army.”
Amr Rabie, a 22-year old student, was reported “abducted” by security forces on March 11, 2014. On May 17, Rabei’s name was enrolled along with 200 others as suspected members of the Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which has killed hundreds of army and police soldiers in numerous attacks in the peninsula.
Egypt is not among the signatories on the International Convention against Enforced Disappearance, and did not accept a recommendation to ratify the agreement during its 2014 UN human rights record review.