Hamza Ali al-Khateeb
On April 29, Hamza Ali al-Khateeb joined hundreds of people from al-Jeeza and other villages in peaceful marches towards Dera’a, Syria. The protesters were attacked by Syrian security forces, who reportedly shot at them and arrested several hundred people.
Thirteen year old Hamza Ali al-Khateeb was one of many who went missing. He was later reported to be held by Air Force Intelligence.
On May 24, Hamza’s family received a phone call to say there was a body in the al-Jeeza Hospital morgue which they should see, and one of Hamza’s relatives went to identify his body.
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Since the brutal police beating of businessman Khalid Said on June 6, 2010, protesters have taken to the streets all over Egypt to draw attention to the curbs on civil rights imposed by the Mubarak Government. In a statement issued on June 14, 2010 Amnesty International is calling for an immediate in investigation into Khalid’s death at the hands of security forces. (Click here to take action.)
According to news reports, Khalid Said, a young businessman was apprehended and beaten outside an Internet café in Alexandria. Videos and photographs of the brutal killing show Khalid’s face severely disfigured by the beating he had received. In statements, the owner of the internet café outside which Khalid was killed, said that security forces showed up outside his establishment dragged Khalid into the street and killed him there. In a video released on the internet, Hassan Mosbah the café owner, said that officers battered Khalid’s head against a marble café table before dragging him into a neighboring building. When the officers returned they were carrying Khalid’s body which they abandoned in the street in front of the café. The Interior Ministry of Egypt is alleging that Khalid was wanted by the police and swallowed a joint when he saw the security forces and thus choked to death. This account is severely contested by the pictures of Khalid Said’s body released on various social networking sites by eyewitnesses who saw the beating. Khalid Said’s relatives were informed of his death but were not allowed to see the body. Khalid Said was reportedly targeted because he was about to release a video that he had obtained from friends showing Egyptian police dividing up spoils of a drug bust.
Since Khalid’s death protests have erupted all over Egypt against police brutality. More than 100 protesters demonstrated in Cairo on Sunday June 14, 2010 and scores were arrested by police. The protestors held up pictures of Khalid Said and hoped to bring attention to the routine flouting of freedoms of speech and association by the Mubarak regime. Aida Seif El Dawla, head of the El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, said to the Christian Science Monitor that Said’s case is “flagrant,” but not unusual. Dr. Dawla says that the number of torture and brutality cases documented by the Nadim Center has risen in the past few years. “People are getting angrier, and this is the only thing that maintains the stability of the regime,” she says. “Stories like this are meant to terrorize the victims and the people around the victims. And this is how the regime is ruling – by terror.”
Amnesty International is calling for an investigation to be carried out on Khalid Said’s death in line with international standards including those within the United Nations Principles on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions. There is also concern about the fact that the State of Emergency was further extended for another two years in Egypt allowing for institutionalized abridgement of civil liberties. Along with those protesting the tragic death of Khalid Said, the international community must focus its eyes on Egypt and the increasing stifling of free speech and freedom of association in Egypt by the Mubarak Government. Amnesty International is joining the international community is asking for prompt accountability for those involved in Khalid Said’s death since failure to do so will further encourage the culture of impunity and allow such brutality to continue.