Friday, January 28, 2011

WikiLeaks Releases Cairo Cables As Egyptian People Protest

By Jerry Smith Jan 28 2011

As WikiLeaks was releasing cables that show the U.S. was willing to overlook torture and police brutality in order to avoid endangering their relationship with the Egyptian Government and President Hosni Mubarak, masses of protesters gathered across Egypt friday afternoon to show their displeasure with Mubarak's 30-year rule, and the governments disregard of wide spread poverty, unemployment and rising food prices.

President Mubarak has imposed a curfew in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, that is being enforced by the military and the police, from 6pm to 7am. Mubarak is attempting to crush this challenge to his rule.

Protesters in Suez captured weapons stored in a police station, asked the policemen inside to leave the building, and then burned it down. Protesters also set fire to about 20 police trucks parked nearby. Security officials said the protests, some with chants of "out, out, out", were happening in at least 11 of the country's 28 provinces.

Security officials said protesters turned upside down the headquarters of Mubarak's ruling party in the cities of Mansoura, north of Cairo, and Suez, east of the capital.

After four days of protests calling for Mubarak's resignation, at least 27 people have been killed.

The cables may anger the Egyptian people further with the specifics of police brutality, torture, and jailing of dissidents by the government being made public.

Margaret Scobey, United States Ambassador to Egypt, wrote in the cable 'GOE Struggling To Address Police Brutality', "Police brutality in Egypt against common criminals is routine and pervasive. Contacts describe the police using force to extract confessions from criminals as a daily event. Security forces still resort to torturing Muslim Brotherhood activists who are deemed to pose a political threat."

According to Scobey, a human rights lawyer had speculated that "officers routinely resort to brutality because of pressure from their superiors to solve crimes." The lawyer also asserted that "most officers think solving crimes justifies brutal interrogation methods, and that some policemen believe that Islamic law sanctions torture".

Scobey quoted the lawyer as saying, "Police officers feel they are above the law and protected by the public prosecutor." He also attributed "police brutality against common criminals, including the use of electric shocks, to the problem of demoralized officers facing long hours and their own economic problems." He asserted that the "police will even beat lawyers who enter police stations to defend their clients."

Other quotes from the Ambassador to Egypt in the 'GOE Struggling To Address Police Brutality' cable:
"The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders."

"A contact from an international NGO described witnessing police beat the doorman of an upscale Cairo apartment building into disclosing the apartment number of a suspect."

"Another contact at a human rights NGO told us that her friends do not report thefts from their apartments because they do not want to subject "all the doormen" in the vicinity to police beatings. She told us that the police's use of force has pervaded Egyptian culture to the extent that one popular television soap opera recently featured a police detective hero who beats up suspects to collect evidence."

Numerous cables about Egypt have been released by WIkiLeaks. Here are links to a few others that may be of interest.

Academics See The Military in Decline, But Retaining Strong Influence

President Mubarak's Visit To Washington

Recent GOE Actions To Suppress Critical Opinion

NDP Insider: Military Will Ensure Transfer Of Power

PDAS Countryman Meet with MOD Officials TO Discuss End-Use Issues

Egypt's Emergency Law And It's Broad Uses

After Controversy, NDP Member Receives Warning For Meeting With Israeli Ambassador

Tourism is the "driving force" in the Egyptian Economy

President Hosni Mubarak has dismissed Egypt's government and has vowed to bring in democratic reforms.

"I have asked the government to resign and tomorrow there will be a new government," Mubarak said early on Saturday, in a televised address to the nation.

Mubarak has been in power for three decades and has vowed to bring in "new measures" for democracy and justice without giving any indication of other changes, even as protests still raged in Cairo and other cities, despite the night-time curfew.

The Egyptian authorities have shut down internet services, but citizens and protesters are figuring out ways to get their information out.

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