Egypt govt. returns Mubarak era police

Egypt govt. returns Mubarak era police
Tue Jul 30, 2013 13:45:39

Egypt's interim government has been accused of attempting to return the country to the Mubarak era through reinstating controversial police unites.

After the country's interior ministry announced the resurrection of several controversial police units that were nominally shut down following the country's 2011 uprising and the interim prime minister was given the power to place the country in a state of emergency, several political activists and experts on Monday warned that Egypt is returning to the silencing era of deposed Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt's state security investigations service, Mabahith Amn ad-Dawla, a wing of the police force under President Mubarak, and a symbol of police oppression, was supposedly closed in March 2011 – along with several units within it that investigated opposition activists. The new national security service (NSS) was established in its place.

"It's a return to the Mubarak era," said Aida Seif el-Dawla, a prominent Egyptian human rights activist, and the executive director of a group that frequently supports victims of police brutality, the Nadeem centre for rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture.

"These units committed the most atrocious human rights violations," said el-Dawla. "Incommunicado detentions, killings outside the law. Those were the [units] that managed the killing of activists during the 1990s. It's an ugly authority that has never been brought to justice."

Karim Ennarah, a researcher on criminal justice and policing at the Egyptian initiative for personal rights (EIPR), said the units were never disbanded. But he said that Ibrahim may be using the current support for the police as an excuse for their public rehabilitation.

"These units for monitoring political groups are not back. They never went anywhere in the first place," said Ennarah. "The only thing that happened was that they changed the name. He's trying to use a situation where the factors on the ground make it easier to re-legitimize these units and police practices."

"Basically, nothing changed at state security [in 2011] except for the name," said Heba Morayef, Egypt director at Human Rights Watch. "So what is significant is that [Ibrahim] could announce this publicly. That would have been unthinkable in 2011. This kind of monitoring of political activity was considered one of the major ills of the Mubarak era. So the fact that he has come out and said this now reflects a new confidence on behalf of the interior ministry. They feel they have been returned to their pre-2011 status."

Hatred of the police was a major cause of the 2011 revolution, while their reform was one of its implicit demands. But the police's obvious enthusiasm for Morsi's fall has helped to rehabilitate them in the eyes of many.

A new protest movement called the Third Square has begun to assemble in a square in west Cairo – rejecting the authoritarianism of both the army and Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, and calling for a return to the true democratic values of the 2011 revolution.


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