In some countries the days of freedom to think, feel, and say what you want actually are gone.
Forced disappearances by Egypt’s security forces aren’t a new tactic in Egypt, but they’re on the rise, human rights groups and activists say. And a cross section of activists, human rights defenders and journalists are being targeted.
One of them is Esraa el-Taweel, 23. She’s a student and photographer who was still recovering from being shot last year while taking pictures on the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled the former president, Hosni Mubarak.
Sitting cross-legged on her bed, 23-year-old Esraa el-Taweel was despondent, surrounded by pictures of killed or jailed friends.
“We’ve paid dearly for this battle,” she said. “I’m not sure it’s been worth it.”
A photographer, Esraa had been a regular at protests in support of Egypt’s former president Mohammed Morsi when in January last year a police bullet ricocheted into her spine, leaving her unable to walk without a stick and forcing a long period of introspection.
“I’m not into politics these days,” she said. “I’m done with all that.”
But it seems the choice was not hers to make. On June 1, Esraa joined the ranks of Cairo’s missing dissidents.
Omar Mohamed was found in an Al-Aqrab Prison detention cell after 10 days of disappearance, his family and friends reported on Thursday.
Abdullah Al-Fakharany and Samhi Mostafa have reportedly been taken from their prison cell in Tora Prison to an unknown location Saturday morning, and information about their whereabouts is yet to be known
On 2 June, 20-year-old engineering student Omar Gamal disappeared during a family outing. In a statement posted online, Gamal’s sister told how her family were spending the evening at a Heliopolis sporting club, when eight men in civilian clothes took her brother away in a microbus without identifying themselves.
Freelance photojournalist Sohaib Saad announced missing Tuesday after disappearing since Monday.
Magdy Ashour, who was featured in the Oscar-nominated movie “The Square,” was reported arbitrarily arrested in June 2.
Another forced disappearance ended with deaths of the disappeared, namely Islam Ateeto and Sabry Al-Ghoul. Ateeto, an Ain Shams engineering student, was found dead on 20 May, a day after his disappearance, while Al-Ghoul, a Sinai-based activist, died on 2 June after being detained for several hours by the military.
At least two students, Abdallah Al-Mahdi and Ahmed Khatab, have been forcibly disappeared.
Ahmed Ghoneim, a Students Against the Coup (SAC) spokesperson, has been missing for over three weeks
66 people have disappeared without a trace in just two months, though observers say more may have gone unreported
At least 163 people have been “forcibly disappeared” or “illegally detained” in the last two months, according to the the Freedom for the Brave campaign, a prisoners’ rights advocacy group. The whereabouts of 66 of those who were detained is still unknown.
The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters banned the April 6 movement in 2014, ordering the confiscation of its headquarters.
Another report released by the state-appointed National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) last week said that at least 80 detainees died in police custody since July 2013 and until last December.