Esraa Abdelfattah, the iconic face of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize that same year, was kidnapped and tortured by the Egyptian regime on 12 October 2019. Esraa – who has been banned from travelling abroad since 2015 – is a great friend of Maydan’s, for whom she generously lent her voice (video). We denounce this latest episode of brutal repression that affects Egypt’s finest youth, alongside the pathetic silence of a helpless and powerless Europe. We publish below the description of what happened, reconstructed thanks to our network of activists and contacts.
Another terrible story of repression once again featuring a woman. The kidnapping, arbitrary detention and torture of human rights defender Esraa Abdelfattah represents a new sign of increased brutality against human rights activists by Egyptian authorities, with the clear aim of sowing terror among critics and opponents.
Esraa Abdelfattah was attacked and kidnapped on 12 October by plainclothes men from the security forces. The next day she reported that she had been beaten, held standing for almost eight hours and faced attempted strangulation, to the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office for State Security. The account of the torture suffered by Esraa Abdelfattah a few days after what happened in the custody of the well-known blogger Alaa Abdelfattah, who described a similar ordeal, is an alarming indication of the growing use by the Egyptian authorities of brutal tactics to suppress dissent.
Esraa is the victim of specious charges and is being arbitrarily detained for her work in defending human rights. She must be released immediately and unconditionally!
Esraa was seized from her car at night and taken to an unspecified detention location run by the National Security Agency, from where she was unable to contact her family or her lawyers.
The modalities of the arrest – seized by plainclothes agents and taken away in a van in public – mark an alarming new trend in the way human rights defenders are targeted by Egyptian authorities. After her arrest, an agency agent threatened her for refusing to provide the password to unlock her cell phone. At that point, several men entered the room and started hitting her on the face and body. The agent returned and, after Esraa’s renewed refusal to unlock her phone, he took off her sweatshirt and used it to strangle her, telling her: “Your life for the phone”, until Esraa was forced to reveal the pin. She was then handcuffed so that she could not sit or kneel, and was forced to remain like that for eight hours. Another agent also threatened her with further torture if she reported the incident to the prosecutor.