Political Prisoners of a Revolution

by Brian Driscoll

After decades of living under oppressive dictatorships and economic stagnation, angry nations across the Middle East and North Africa started revolutions seeking change and democracy. Hosni Mubarak who lead one of the most durable regimes was forced to step down after 30 years of authoritarian rule as a result of the mass demonstrations that took place in the great cities of Egypt. Many people accused of supporting these political uprisings are suffering unjust consequences.

Since January 28, 2011, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), the strong arm of the Egyptian Military and now the prevailing Egyptian authority, has detained thousands of civilians and held them without any access to lawyers or an opportunity to review the evidence against them. Further, the courts are not notifying families of those who are sent to Military trial. There have been cases of Egyptian children abducted by SCAF and prosecuted through Egypt's adult criminal justice and state security courts where some victims have been sentenced for up to 15 years in Tora maximum security prison.

Since assuming power the SCAF has failed to address several serious human rights problems in the country and in many cases has exacerbated them. According to human rights groups, it is not clear how many people are behind bars in Egypt for political activities. It also appears evident that a lot of these people were very young in age, not extreme protesters, happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time or were abducted at the hands of the Egyptian military.

In January 2012, I embarked on a personal project to shed light on this very sensitive topic and for the second time since the Egyptian uprisings began I found myself in the heart of downtown Cairo. On February 5, 2012, I met Dr. Rafeek, a 28 year old doctor who devotes himself to protesters injured during the sudden uprisings. Dr. Rafeek himself was a victim of military abuse in early December 2011, when he was detained for 26 days inside C-28 military prison and endured acts of torture and abuse by National Security forces. He was accused of interfering with government operations. Dr. Rafeek was simply helping the wounded and was seen as a threat by SCAF.

Some of the victims I have encountered remained in detention for up to a year, along with serious violations of their human rights, acts of torture, as well as sustained inhumane conditions. Additionally, families of loved ones absconded by SCAF without warning are also victims experiencing hardship, often provided with no information on where their family member are.
My photographs are an attempt to portray and uncover the intimate stories of some of these people and bring greater awareness about the thousands of detainees who are held behind bars in Egypt,  unknown for weeks, months, and possibly years.

Brian Driscoll is a documentary photographer currently based in New York City.

 

Mohana Mahod, 23, from Cairo, an assistant medic at makeshift hospitals during uprisings, was captured on Mohamed Mahmoud street in downtown Cairo mid December 2011, for protesting the government. He was blindfolded and taken to Tora prison in Maadi, Cairo where he was detained for 22 days. Mohana was striped down, endured electric shocks, scalded with hot water and was badly beaten up by the National Security. He awaits his trial. Their is a chance he can serve up to 10 years in prison. February 16, 2012
 
Fatin El Sayed Mohamed, 36, from Agouza, Cairo, was abducted in Tahrir Square, September 2011, as she was selling tea. Fatin was charged with being homeless, she was taken to Asrel Nil police station where she was detained for 14 days. At the time she was detained, Fatin was 6 months pregnant. She awaits her trial date. March 8, 2012
 The bedroom of 21 year old Moneer Yousry Moneer, a protester who was abducted in Nasr City, April 9, 2011, accused of criticizing the government. Moneer is currently detained inside Wadi Natroon C-2 prison on Cairo-Alexandria Rd. Moneer has endured many acts of torture, while living in a inhumane environment. The family awaits judgement day, then trial will be set. St. Theresa, Cairo, March 27, 2012
 
Ateyat Abdalla Ahmed, 42, mother of Moneer Yousry Moneer, 21, who was abducted in Nasr City, April 9, 2011, accused of criticizing the government. Moneer is currently detained inside Wadi Natroon C-2 prison, on Cairo-Alexandria Rd. Moneer has endured many acts of torture, while living in a inhumane environment. The family awaits judgment day, then trial will be set. St. Theresa Cairo, March 27, 2012
Shireen El Kady, 25, an accountant from Cairo, was abducted in Tahrir Square by SCAF, accused of taking part in the burning of the Balloon theater in Agouza, Cairo. She was detained inside a women's military prison for almost 2 months, during her sentence Shireen encountered a series of sexual assaults and beatings. She awaits her trial date. March 7, 2012
Hamde Said, 22, was captured in the streets of downtown Cairo by SCAF mid December 2011, accused of criticizing the government. He was taken to C-28 military prison where he served 31 days. Hamde, was striped down, endured electric shocks, scalded with hot water and was badly beaten by the National Security. He awaits trial. Their is a chance he can serve up to 8 years in prison. February 12, 2012
Dr. Rafik, 28, is one of the head doctors at makeshift hospitals during uprisings. He was captured by SCAF on Mohamed Mahmoud street in early December 2011, accused of interfering with government issues. He was blind folded and taken to C-28 military prison where he was detained for 26 days. Dr. Rafik was striped down, endured electric shocks and was badly beaten by the National Security. Cairo, February 5, 2012
Fayza Ali Aboelnow, holds a picture of her youngest daughter, Nashwa Rafeek Mahmoud, at the age of 12, home in Zakazik, Egypt. Nashwa, now 20, was abducted near Tahrir Square in July of 2011, by a military officer who forced her to go with him where she was held against her will for two days. Nashwa escaped back to her home, within hours military bombarded the home. She is currently detained in Anater El Khyreya, a prison for women. Nashwa's family awaits her trial date, their is chance she can serve up to 10 years. Zakazik, March 18, 2012