‘They beat us like animals’: Egypt’s children detained, tortured

AhramRights groups report on the rise of Egyptian police brutality against children after 13 minors were arrested in Cairo on Tuesday; Ahram Online speaks with the victims

In an impoverished district of Alexandria, Sherifa Abdel-Meneem described finding bruises and gashes all over her 13-year-old son’s body, Abdel-Rahman, who was picked up by Egyptian security forces at a protest on 27 January and detained for over two weeks.”He won’t tell me where the marks come from or what the security forces did to him, he’s too scared… when he went missing no words can describe how I felt, I wasn’t sure I’d see my son ever again,” said Abdel-Meneem.

The latest spat of arrests during a political context occurred on Tuesday, when the Egyptian Coalition for Children’s Rights reported a further 13 children were taken during a police raid on Cairo’s Tahrir Square. One of boys picked up by the police, Walid Ahmed Abdel Sayed, was12 years old.

Since the start of 2013, rights groups have been reporting an increase in police brutality towards children.

“It is definitely a way of frightening people…the number of children taken by security forces and the manner in which they are detained is unprecedented in my experience,” says Ghada Shahbender of the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights.

She explains that roughly around a third of the recent political prisoners are underage, normally from an impoverished background.

This is certainly true of Abdel-Rahman who is the breadwinner of his family, despite being 13 years old. He, his mother and his five siblings squeeze into a flat no larger than an average-sized living room in Alexandria. According to Abdel-Meneem, his two week disappearance had financial consequences as well as emotional ones.

Abdel-Rahman was detained with 14-year-old bone cancer patient Mahmoud Adel whose story hit international headlines after the judge initially refused to allow him chemotherapy.

Both boys, who say they were bystanders to the Alexandrian demonstration, were only released after significant pressure from rights groups like the Egyptian Organisation of Human Rights.

Police brutality against children

For Abdel-Meneem, not knowing the location of her son, Abdel-Rahman, was one of the most traumatising aspects of her son’s disappearance. Typically, no effort is made by Egyptian security forces to contact the children’s parents when the arrest occurs.

She spoke of trawling police stations for days and eventually attempting to take food to her son at the Alexandrian Security Directorate, where she was initially refused entry.

The children themselves are threatened with violence if they try to make contact with anyone.

Abdel-Rahman, who appears visibly distressed and had to be coaxed by his family members to relate his story, recalled hearing friends shouting his name as they ran behind the Central Security Forces (CSF) truck that transported the boy and other inmates to an unknown location.

“The officer said if we try to call out to our friends and family they would beat us… so we stayed quiet.”

There was a seven-year-old boy in one of the cells where he was kept together with adults, Abdel-Rahman added. “The boy’s parents didn’t know that he was missing.”

There are dozens of children left in prison because the parents do not have relations with resources to find their missing sons and daughters, the boy asserted, while tentatively pointing to the places on his body where he was beaten by security forces.

Abdel-Rahman claimed he was not subjected to the electrocutions and sexual assault that rights groups and victims say inmates, including children, are often subjected to.

Violation of Child’s Law

The presence of children in protests and clashes and their consequent detention, although getting worse, is nothing new, explained Karim Ennarah from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. However, “since 25 January this year… the involvement of the prosecution in this abuse is a new trend.”

The role of the prosecutor appears to be much more politicised when dealing with detentions, and rights groups are noticing that they are broadly renewing detentions in violation of Egyptian legislation, said Ennarah.

“Typically the prosecutors used to stick to procedures in Egypt’s Child Law. There is special treatment for children under the age of 12 and15. For example, those under 12 years of age do not have criminal liability, and the detention of those under 15 cannot be renewed for more than a week,” he added.

“This has changed.”

Shahbender agreed, adding that both adults and children are now held even when there is no police report, which is considered illegal under Egyptian law.

According to the law, children are supposed to be kept in centres “fit for the detention of a child,” which is not happening, Shahbender described. “Egyptian juvenile detention centres are appalling…and are run like prisons.”

Systemic violence

The children recounted stories of brutal beatings.

“We got arrested because we couldn’t fight back or run away fast enough,” said 15-year-old Mahmoud El-Sayed Ragab, who was taken from the central Alexandrian square with Abdel-Rahman on 27 January.

“The police beat us and hurled insults at us like we were animals; they took us to the security directorate where men in black clothes hit me so hard I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was dead,” said Ragab.

12-year-old Ziyad Taysir Mohamed Ahmed described being kidnapped on Cairo’s Qasr Al-Nil Bridge by CSF in early February and accused of vandalising the nearby Shepherd Hotel off Tahrir Square.

“They dragged me by my hair and then held me up by my neck, while punching me on the head. The police kept asking me who paid me to attack the hotel and telling me they were going to take me to different police stations and let me go, but I ended up in Torah Prison.”

Ziyad was detained for 24 hours, which his father engineer Taysir Mohamed Ahmed said was a “lucky escape” because of his ‘connections’ to secure his son’s release. “Others were not so lucky,” he lamented.

The Ministry of Interior has yet to directly tackle the issue of child abuse by the Egyptian police in a public statement. Ahram Online attempted to speak with a ministry official, but the ministry was unavailable to comment.

However, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim stated on 19 February that no violence is used by the police force against peaceful protesters.

“The authorities have discovered if they really want to break us, they have to use the most important people to us – our children,” concluded Taysir Mohamed Ahmed. “This is why they are arresting and torturing children.  Our children are our weak point. They are our future.”

Additional reporting by Diaa Adel

The People’s Republic: Civil disobedience in Egypt

New Statesman

As Egypt celebrates the second anniversary of the 25 January revolution, cities are threatening to declare independence from central government by Bel Trew and Yassin Gaber 

On the second anniversary of Egypt’s 25 January Revolution, thousands are expected to gather on Tahrir Square, Cairo’s firmly established protest space.

The haphazard village of demonstration tents and vendors, which has been walled in by security barricades, has become a permanent fixture.

Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, who famously bared his chest to the square during his first speech as president in July 2012, now appears to be largely ignoring the rallying point.

It has become a permissible area to demonstrate, critics say rendering it ineffective.

“Egypt’s political and social movement has realised that dissent isn’t just through a presence in a square. We’ve seen more and more attempts at organisation on a community, university and factory level,” says Hisham Fouad, a labour expert and founder of the Children of the Land research centre.

The struggle for social and political rights has expanded across different sectors and entered different venues, he adds, highlighting in particular calls in December and January for civil disobedience.

“The recent battle over the constitution was waged across governorates and wasn’t concentrated in Cairo – pockets of dissent fought this battle throughout Egypt’s cities.”

Vote of no confidence

In December, against the backdrop of a deepening political crisis, several of Egypt’s major cities including Alexandria, Mahalla – the country’s industrial capital – and Suez declared independence from Morsi’s government.

Even Cairo’s Moqattam district, which houses the central headquarters of the Brotherhood, announced they would withdraw from the state.

These recent collective actions were precipitated by the president’s decision to push through a controversial constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, after granting himself unfettered authorities.

With little change two years on from the ouster of Mubarak, there are plans to repeat these calls for independence in 2013.

Influential activist Mamdouh Amir, one of the seven authors of Mahalla’s 7 December independence declaration, explains that the industrial city’s independence was not a direct withdrawal from the Egyptian state “flag and all”.

Rather it was an expression of defiance against the “lawlessness of the state that is buttressed by the ruling political elite.”

“It was a symbolic action to encourage people to strive for a more comprehensive civil disobedience on a nationwide scale in the future,” adds Alaa Bahlaan, founding member of Mahalla’s local branch of Mohamed ElBaradei’s Constitution Party, who were signatories to the city’s declaration of independence.

Activists in Alexandria, Egypt’s “second city”, inspired by events in Mahalla immediately followed suit.

“People looked at Mahalla as a role model,” explains Mahienour El-Massry, from Alexandria’s Revolutionary Socialists, who saw the symbolic act as a creative means of delivering a warning shot to the regime.

Alexandria had initially attempted to declare independence during 2011’s 18-day uprising, including selecting an alternate governor (a well-respected local judge) and securing the support of “state officials, governorate employees and tax collectors,” who agreed to defect.

But it was never made public, as the day chosen to oust Mubarak’s government officials from the coastal city coincided with 11 February when Mubarak stepped down.

Over the past year, the failure of national and local government to interact with their constituencies, to empower the populace and to delegate authorities in a democratic and transparent manner continues to mean that power in Egypt has been concentrated into the hands of a privileged, political clique.

“We want to put forward a model government that is built on popular legitimacy and a respect of the law by creating an alternative or shadow council,” explains Amir.

“We, as the nation’s youth, want a lawful state. At the moment, the president of Egypt has completely deviated from the rule of law. This is apparent by his appropriation of judicial authorities in December.”

Local decay and political alienation

The centralisation of Egypt’s political structure has meant that outside of Cairo many citizens feel marginalised and alienated. On a local level, the public receive little or no services, seriously impacting their daily lives.

This is because deep-seated corruption in local governance remains rife on a nationwide level even after the uprising, claims Muhammed Abushaqra, a leading member of Alexandria’s branch of the Constitution Party that joined the coastal city’s bid for independence.

The problem is, Abushaqra continues, there has been no structural change: the system of local governance was directly inherited from the Mubarak regime.

The presidency appoints governors and their deputies, he explains, who in turn exercise complete control of the budget’s purse strings and thus manipulate all local policies ranging from education to health to transportation.

“The governor is the only one running the show.”

This also allows Morsi to place pro-government officials in these influential posts, El-Massry claims.

In Alexandria, she explains, the “much-hated deputy-governor” Hassan El-Brince is “one of the main public figures of the Muslim Brotherhood” who she says adopts the agenda of the Islamist group at every turn, not the people’s.

At the moment in Egypt, the only elected body are the municipal councils, which are solely advisory boards. They have yet to be re-elected since their dissolution following the 25 January uprising.

Power is therefore concentrated exclusively in the governor’s hands, leaving policymaking and budgetary decisions arguably the sole prerogative of the presidency and its local representative.

Favouritism and political calculations, not community needs, activists say, are the driving modus operandi.

“If the minister of finance favours a governor, he can put a couple of million pounds more in the budget…there is no transparency,” Abushaqra says, adding that the people cannot, therefore, guarantee the money is going where it is most needed.

One example is the lack of investment in the country’s public transport – dozens have died in multiple governorates over the past two months on Egypt’s decrepit railways.

“Because of these inadequate services, citizens feel that the government treats them without any dignity,” Bahlaan states. “Consequently, the idea of civil disobedience has progressed into calls to not pay electricity, sanitation, water and gas bills.”

December’s constitutional decree and the forced referendum represented a further affront to their dignity, he adds, spurring people to seek alternative means of protest.

With the government further alienating itself from the people and Morsi set on staging the referendum at any cost, on 7 December, thousands in Mahalla marched on the city council.

One day later in Alexandria, revolutionaries were met with civilians “armed with swords and a machine gun” and then later security forces as they attempted to lay siege on the temporary offices of the governor, El-Massry explains.

Suez, and other cities followed.

“The new constitution supports the same arbitrary delegation of power,” Abushaqra stresses, as the new national charter failed to stipulate that governors will be elected – a key demand of the 25 January Revolution.

“Everyone in Egypt is continuing to suffer from local corruption.”

The most telling example of the state’s complete failure on a local level is found in the villages.

The Republic of Tahsin

Tahsin, a Nile Delta village, last year declared complete independence from the state after two decades of neglect.

“The village doesn’t have any services, no hospitals, no school; only half the village has electricity, not even a road,” explains Wael Ghaly, a lawyer from the All Egyptians organisation that has been working on the village’s case.

Following the 25 January uprising, villagers attempted to make contact with the newly appointed government, sending a delegation first to the governorate offices and eventually to Cairo. They even staged a protest outside the presidential palace but to no avail.

“Finally, the worst happened, a child fell ill with a fever and is now paralysed because they couldn’t get him to hospital in time; they couldn’t drive a car down the dirt track to get him there in time,” Ghaly explains.

It was the last straw, he continues, the final resort was declaring independence.

The village collectively decided to not pay taxes and have since become self-sufficient – bringing in generators to power the neighbourhood themselves.

“Another village in Sharqiya followed suit. But so far, even after making both public, there has been no response from the government.”

History repeats itself

Civil disobedience is nothing new in Egypt, maintains Dr Stephen Zunes, a professor at the University of San Francisco who specialises in Middle Eastern politics and strategic non-violent action. The UK has much to do with this particular manifestation of dissent.

In 1919, Zunes explains, the Egyptian fight against British occupation, “largely consisted of general strikes, boycotts, resignations of officials. There is that legacy.”

The historic “Republic of Zifta” was created in 1919, when the Nile Delta town, declared independence from the crown following the expulsion of leading Wafd member Saad Zaghloul Pasha.

Even Gandhi himself, Zunes continues, was inspired by events in Egypt for his subsequent campaigns in India. “When he pioneered a lot of his ideas, like resistance of colonialism and pro-independent struggle, he spoke of Egypt as a model.”

Certainly calls for the independence of Mahalla have been around since the 90s, when the city declared independence from the Gharbiya governorate.

The idea of a shadow council existed before the revolution and had Muslim Brothers in its ranks, says Amir, Mubarak’s response was to say “let them entertain themselves’.”

A way forward?

The moves towards independence have not been without controversy.

Abushaqra admits that the average Egyptian “doesn’t understand this movement very well and conversely thinks that such a revolutionary outrage is against stability.”

Critics also say it divides vital national unity, at a time when there is significant political unrest across the country.

Alexandria deputy governor El-Brince was unavailable for comment about the calls for independence.

However, Mamdouh El-Munir, spokesperson for the ruling Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party in the Gharbiya governorate where Mahalla is located, maintains:

“[The moves for independence] are indicative of an ideological bankruptcy. Either it is a weakness in political thought or an inability to present ideas to people, in turn the opposition has resorted to mere media spectacle.”

El-Munir slammed the actions as overhyped.

“I believe if you were enter the city of Mahalla you would not be asked for your passport or an entrance visa. All that happened was that a group of youth published a statement online declaring independence for their own town.  In essence, a load of hot air.”

Bahlaan however, believes that Islamists and government supporters do not understand the symbolism of the move, that he says, was a preliminary step to familiarise people with the concept of civil disobedience.

Abushaqra agrees “We must make an effort in translating and interpreting these high principals into local and developmental terms.”

“People in the past have dealt with calls for a general strike or civil disobedience lightly, not knowing the rules of the game and what is really needed to actualise such forms of dissent,” Fouad states.

Just last week, he continues, Mahalla community leaders and activists managed to force the head of the city council to discuss their grievances with the city’s public services and begin negotiations.

In addition, on 22 January, as part of the lead up to the 25 January anniversary celebrations, separate revolutionary forces staged a “stop for an hour” act of disobedience.

Price hikes on basic amenities, worsening economic conditions as well as recurring water and electricity outages will ensure continued political opposition on the ground.

All of those involved in the calls for independence say they will wield this revolutionary weapon again in 2013. More are joining.

Currently in the pipeline, the restive city of Port Said has threatened to declare independence next week – in addition to women’s movements using Facebook to express a vote of no confidence in Morsi’s administration.

“The collective consciousness of the people is moving towards a realisation of a new tool to push President Morsi to change his policies,” Abushaqra concludes, “Innovation is going to take place – local independence is just one way.”

SCAF ‘restraint’ proves hollow as more Egypt protesters killed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 15-year-old boy is in critical condition and there are unconfirmed reports of another four casualties afterEgyptian Central Security Forces (CSF) and army personnel stormed Tahrir Square in the early hours of Tuesday morning, as clashes raged on into their fifth consecutive day. The latest attacks follow a statement by Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on Monday in which it denied using excessive force against protesters and praised the “high levels of self restraint” exercised by military police.

At 3:30am, CSF troops and military units arrived at Omar Makram Mosque, located adjacent to Cairo’s flashpoint Tahrir Square, following a similar strategy as the night before, when two protesters were killed. Using batons, live ammunition and tear gas, the CSF pushed protesters from the mosque and nearby Kasr El-Aini Street. Security forces tore down a tent erected the day before, along with a banner depicting the female protester who had earlier been stripped and beaten by military police. Protesters also accused security forces of burning medical supplies and blankets.

Clashes between activists and police continued on the nearby Talaat Harb and Bab El-Louk streets and in front of the Nile-Ritz Carlton Hotel. Ahram Online witnessed several protesters attempting – unsuccessfully, as it turned out – to speak to security forces. In contrast to yesterday’s attacks, the army remained on the periphery of the square, allowing the CSF to do most of the fighting.

Last night also saw an escalation of violence by security forces using automatic weapons.

“The use of machine guns was unbelievable; it didn’t stop,” says Nazly, 28, a protester lightly injured in last month’s clashes on Mohamed Mahmoud Street. “We’ve become so accustomed to the shooting that we’ve stopped running. We’re no longer afraid of getting shot.”

Stone-throwing protesters faced off against police, who took the lead in attacking the square last night, successfully pushing the CSF back to Kasr El-Aini Street on several occasions.

Those in the square also reported the liberal use of live ammunition. “The bullet wounds were deeper and bigger than we usually see. I saw so many of these injuries,” said Nazly. “We treated them in makeshift field hospitals since ambulances refused to come to Tahrir.”

Yesterday evening, ambulances – usually stationed in the vicinity of Omar Makram Mosque and along Kasr El-Aini – moved to the area behind the Shepheard Hotel, a safe distance from the fighting. Panicked protesters called the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, a Cairo-based rights watchdog, and the health ministry to urge paramedics to return to the field.

The army remained near the mosque for the duration of the attacks. “I saw two men die from gunshot wounds,” said 21-year-old protester Lina, who spoke at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “I found bloody clothes and bullets and held them aloft, only metres from the army. I thought I could shame their conscience. I was wrong.”

Revolutionary groups convened two press conferences on Tuesday afternoon to condemn the violent behaviour of security forces and the SCAF.

Egyptian security forces have also faced a barrage foreign criticism. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton described recent events as “shocking,” calling the behaviour of the security forces a “disgrace.”

During the recent clashes, the army appears to have fortified the improvised wall on Al-Sheikh Rihan Street, making it two concrete blocks wide.

At approximately 5:30am, security forces withdrew to the Omar Makram Mosque side of Tahrir Square. Sporadic bursts of gunfire could still be heard as limited clashes continued around the US Embassy in Cairo’s nearby Garden City district.

Hundreds are now participating in a woman’s protest march that started at 4pm on Tuesday in solidarity with female protesters who have been subjected to sexual assault and beatings at the hands of security forces.

There are fears among protesters that the movement may be losing public support, but morale in the square remains high nevertheless.

“Now we’re used to fighting a daily battle,” said 20-year-old protester and graffiti artist Mohammad. “The fact that we’ve held out this long against police and the army just shows how powerful we are.”

Video: Security forces kill two more protesters in Egypt

As the fierce fighting between protesters, the military and Central Security Forces entered its fourth day, at 3:50am Monday morning Egyptian security forces attacked Tahrir Square, leaving two protesters dead.

Despite video footage showing the contrary, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) claimed in a televised press conference Monday afternoon that there was no evidence of the use of violence against protesters. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton begged to differ, making separate public statements a few hours before the conference to condemn the use of violence with both calling for the security forces to respect human rights.

Last night, Mohammad Mohie Hussein, 30 who was detained with 163 others during the last four days of fighting on Qasr El-Aini Street, died from his injuries whilst in custody. In response, the lawyers working on the cases staged a sit-in, refusing to continue until those in detention received medical attention.

Just before 4am, Central Security Forces, who the day before had joined the army against the protesters, appeared at the Omar Makram Mosque entrance to Tahrir and attacked those in the square with rocks, Molotovs and occasional gunfire.

At the same time Khalid Abdalla, 31, a filmmaker on the square tweeted that the army had started “making preparations for another wall” at the junction between Sheikh Rihan Street and Qasr El-Aini Street.

Protesters initially held the CSF soldiers off with rocks and Molotov cocktails. At 4am the security forces stormed the square, firing gunshots and tear gas at protesters who fled up Talaat Harb Street and towards the Egyptian Museum. Central Security Forces took over the central roundabout in the square, ripping down the few tents and banners that had been erected yesterday afternoon.

“It was another incredibly violent push by both the police and army working together,” says Sherief, 27, a researcher and activist, who was on the square at the time, “I saw people who were suffering from tear gas, were shot with shotgun pellets and who had been hit very badly by batons. We were pushed down Talaat Harb Street, under fire.”

Army and police officers then attempted to enter flats looking onto Tahrir, as they had done during raids on Saturday when they confiscated cameras and media equipment.

Ahram Online witnessed CSF personnel firing large amounts of long range tear gas canisters and bird shot at the square’s central roundabout. Mohammed, a 33-year-old photographer, filmed officers using automatic weapons. “I saw a police officer with what looked like an M16 on the midan (square) and two army officers with AK47S,” he said. “I saw them fire a few rounds directly at protesters who had retreated down the street.”

The army and police set upon any protesters who had not managed to leave the square. “I filmed five police officers and a solider drag an injured protester and beat him on the corner of Talaat Harb Street,” says Mohammed. “Later there were about 20 army and Central Security Forces beating an inert protester in the middle of the square.” Protesters reported seeing snipers on the government Mogamma complex, although this is unconfirmed. There were also plain clothed people spread amongst the uniformed forces. “We saw around 100 of them,“ Mohammad confirms.

After a continued and brutal assault of tear gas, gunfire and rocks at round 5:30am, CSF and the army began to retreat. Protesters entered from the museum side of Tahrir and Talaat Harb.

Four soldiers and police officers were captured by protesters. Groups of men made human chains around the captives to protect them from the angry crowds. One member of the military, who was badly beaten, was then treated by protesters in a nearby field hospital.

“The army built another wall in downtown on Sheikh Rihan Street, showing their inability to deal with the situation in a positive way,” adds Sherief. “Although we dealt with tear gas and guns, the people pushed them back and won a victory last night.”

“There are so many rocks, it looks like rain”

 

 

The fighting between protesters, the Egyptian army (SCAF) and now the Central Security Forces on Egypt’s Tahrir Square has entered its fourth day with very bloody scenes taking place on the midan over night. This morning, both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton have separately made statements condemning the Egyptian authorities for their “excessive use of force”, and calling for security forces to respect human rights.

The fierce battles mark an escalation in violence by the military regime against the people despite this morning’s televised press conference, where the SCAF claimed there was no evidence of use of force against the protesters, and Saturday’s statement from the SCAF-appointed Prime Minister, Kamel Ganzouri, who said they would not violently respond to demonstrations.

Facing increasing pressure from the protesters who are pushing for the removal of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces from power and a swift transition to a civilian government, the army have continued to resort to forcibly quelling protests. Against the background of elections, which the protesters feel will only produce a puppet parliament, the SCAF, who have publicly painted themselves as a peace-keeping force, appear even more determined.

At approximately 4am this morning, the Central Security Forces together with the army stormed the square using long-range tear gas canisters, shotguns and, as video footage proves, automatic weapons.


(Video courtesy of Mosireen)

“They attacked us with an incredible amount of force”, says Sherif, 27, who was on Tahrir as they attacked. “We saw shotguns, possibly live ammunition. Regardless of the level of violence used, people stood their ground and are still staying put.”

Two protesters were killed in the clearing of the square this morning. Mohammad Mohie Hussein, 30, who was detained with 200 others during the last four days of fighting on Qasr Al Aini Street, died from his injuries whilst in custody last night. Over 13 protesters have been killed in total since the fighting began and hundreds have been injured.

Four soldiers were captured on the square by protesters overnight. Protesters formed human cordons around the officers protecting them from angry crowds as they rushed them off Tahrir in cars and buses. One badly beaten soldier was treated by protesters in a field hospital.

The army built a third wall on Sheikh Rihan street last night, which is parallel to the street in front of the cabinet where the protesters’ original sit-in had been. Yesterday afternoon they built a concrete wall blocking off Qasr Al Aini street which leads to Tahrir.

Clashes were sparked by the cabinet sit-in on early Friday morning after the army had arrested, beaten and electrocuted a young activist, Aboudi Ibrahim.

After clearing the sit-in, soldiers were seen hurling slabs of concrete paving, molotov cocktails, rocks and even a filing cabinet from the surrounding buildings onto the protesters causing severe head injuries. A field hospital by the Omar Makram mosque reported 11 head injuries in 15 minutes. At one point, two soldiers urinated on the crowds; others later performed obscene dances.

“I was on the frontline by the wall yesterday,” says one young protester, who was unable to reveal his identity as he is on an army Wanted list and so currently in hiding. “It is so dark, as they switch the streets light off none of us could see the rocks. I was hit in the forehead and blood soaked my keffiyeh. I had to have nine stitches at the field hospital.”

“There are so many rocks, it looks like rain. We set up a spotlight at one point so we could get out of the way of them,” adds Omar, 24, also a protester who received gunshot wounds during the 120+ hour clashes three weeks ago.

Since Friday, there have been cases of extreme army brutality, particularly during the clearing of the streets and squares, with frequent instances of large groups of officers and plain-clothed police setting upon one protester at a time. I witnessed members of the military beating up paramedics by the field hospitals, older protesters who couldn’t run as fastm, and bystanders. They burnt all the tents left on Tahrir square.

On Saturday afternoon the army charged protesters across Qasr Al Nile Bridge towards the neighbouring residential area of Zamalek and began pulling people out of cars.

Video and photographs of members of the armed forces stripping and beating a veiled female protester (see photo above) sparked national and international outrage. In the square, male protesters stopped cars to show them a newspaper with the image printed on it.

The attacks on women have rallied much needed public support for the protesters, as it is particularly shocking behaviour for the relatively conservative and predominantly Islamic Egyptian society.

“The army are treating men and women the same, they are not paying attention to the fact that we’re are often physically weaker than an officer,” explains Riham, 25, a doctor, who narrowly missed a beating herself. “It’s not about men and women, whoever they face they beat up,” adds female presidential candidate Bothaina Kamel, who is frequently on the square. “The problem is the army give orders to the soldiers to watch Pharaohs, afulool [old regime] channel. They are brainwashed.”

Mona Seif, sister of detained blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah, described being arrested: “They attacked the kiosk where I was hiding… they were kicking me with their boots and hitting me with their sticks. The default is for them to hit even if there isn’t a clear order.” She described them ripping off a woman’s niqab and beating a woman until her head bled. Her sister, Sanaa, who was also detained and badly beaten, heard people being tortured.

It is clear the military do not want these actions to be publicised. Yesterday they began entering flats overlooking Tahrir and confiscating cameras and throwing media equipment off balconies.

The army first attacked the protesters four days ago, as election votes were still being counted. Tonight the results from the 2nd round of Egypt’s supposedly free and open elections are due to be announced. The fighting shows no sign of stopping.

“The army are playing with us,” says 21-year-old Mahmoud, a filmmaker, who was also injured in the clashes. “The SCAF want the military regime to continue. But the protesters will not stop until we take those first steps into a civilian ruled country.”