egyptian protestor kissing army officer_311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Egyptian military secretly detained hundreds, or possibly thousands, of
suspected government opponents since the anti-government protests
against Egyptian Prime Minister Hosni Mubarak began, and some of the
detainees were tortured, UK-based The Guardian reported on Wednesday.
The Guardian reported
that it had spoken to detainees who said they suffered extensive
beatings and other abuses by the Egyptian military. Those released gave graphic
accounts of physical abuse by soldiers who accused them of acting for
foreign powers, including Hamas and Israel.
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to the report, some of the detainees were held inside the Museum of
Egyptian Antiquities at the edge of Cairo's Tahrir Square and included human
rights activists, lawyers, and journalists, though most have been
Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in Cairo, told the Guardian that
hundreds, and possibly thousands, of ordinary people had "disappeared"
into military custody across the country for no more than carrying a
political flyer, attending demonstrations or even the way they look.
Many were still missing.
"Their range is very wide, from people
who were at the protests or detained for breaking curfew to those who
talked back at an army officer or were handed over to the army for
looking suspicious or for looking like foreigners even if they were
not," he said. "It's unusual and to the best of our knowledge it's also
unprecedented for the army to be doing this."
Bahgat also said that the pattern of accounts from those released showed
the military had been conducting a campaign to break the protests.
"Some people, especially the activists, say they were interrogated about
any possible links to political organizations or any outside forces.
For the ordinary protesters, they get slapped around and asked: 'Why are
you in Tahrir?' It seems to serve as an interrogation operation and an
intimidation and deterrence."
This report came just a day after US Defense Secretary Robert Gates on
Tuesday praised Egypt’s military for an “exemplary” response to the
country’s political turmoil and urged the government to press forward
with promised changes at “a steady pace.”
“Continuing to move forward on this and fulfilling the promises that
have been made, I think, is quite critical,” said Gates, speaking to
reporters at the Pentagon today after an unrelated ceremony with French
Defense Minister Alain Juppe. The Egyptian military’s handling of the
situation has “made a contribution to the evolution of democracy and
what we’re seeing in Egypt,” Gates said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.