(Beirut) – Egyptian security forces on August 29, 2014 arrested, at a demonstration, an academic who had provided information about the massacre of protesters in Rab’a Square in August, 2013. Police also raided the man’s home and beat him, his lawyer and a relative told Human Rights Watch.
Mohamed Tareq, who previously taught at Alexandria University, was one of eight men arrested at a demonstration in Alexandria on August 29. Prosecutors ordered a 15-day detention for five of the men, including Tareq, pending interrogations into accusations of protesting without authorization, illegal public assembly, blocking traffic, and membership in the banned Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Saeed, an Alexandria lawyer working on the case, told Human Rights Watch.
“After more than a year of denying wrongdoing and covering up its grave abuses for the Rab’a massacre, beating and raiding the home of an academic who described what he saw there would be a new low,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Egyptian police should know that the further they go down the road of repression, the louder calls for accountability will grow.”
Tareq provided evidence that Human Rights Watch used in an August 2014 report about the Rab’a dispersal, “All According to Plan: The Rab’a Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt” and appeared in a video Human Rights Watch released about the subject.
The arrest and accusations appear to be unrelated to Tareq’s interview with Human Rights Watch. Saeed said, however, that, among the eight men arrested, Tareq was the only one beaten and whose home was raided. Police significantly damaged his house and confiscated materials commemorating the Rab’a massacre during the raid on August 29, Saeed and the relative told Human Rights Watch. Prosecutors have instructed the Forensic Medical Authority to evaluate Tareq’s injuries to establish whether police beat him, Saeed said.
Tareq had given numerous statements to the media about the horrific events he witnessed and experienced on August 14, 2013. Tareq was seriously injured during the Rab’a massacre, with gunshot wounds to his arm and chest.
Tareq taught in the Faculty of Sciences of Alexandria University until he was dismissed in 2010 for demonstrating against the brutal beating and killing of Khaled Said, who became an iconic figure during the 2011 uprising, by Egyptian police. He has been an activist for years with different groups, including the Al-Ghad Party and the National Association for Change formerly led by Mohamed al-Baradei.
As of September 1, Tareq and the four other men were being held at Moharram Bek police station in Alexandria. They are next due to appear in court on September 10.
Egyptian authorities should release the men or promptly charge them with offenses that do not violate their rights. The authorities should protect the men from mistreatment and provide full due process rights, including regular access to counsel and family visits as well as all necessary medical care. If they are charged, they should have the opportunity to review evidence and mount a meaningful defense.