Blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah: A return to Mubarak’s prisons

Cross posted from Felix Arabia

I did not expect that the very same experience would be repeated after five years. After a revolution in which we have ousted the tyrant, I go back to jail?

The memories of being incarcerated have returned, all the details, from the skills of being able to sleep on the floor with eight colleagues in a small cell (2 x 4 metres) to the songs and discussions of the inmates. But I am completely unable to remember how I secured my glasses while asleep. They were trampled upon three times in one day. I realise suddenly that they are the very same pair I had when I was jailed in 2006, and that I am imprisoned, now, pending investigation under similarly flimsy accusations  and reasons of that incarceration. The only difference is that we have exchanged state security prosecution with military prosecution: a change fitting to the military moment we are living in.

The previous time, I was joined in detention by 50 colleagues from the Kefaya movement, but on this occasion I am alone, together with eight wrongly accused.

As soon as they realised that I was from the “Youth of the Revolution” they started cursing at the revolution and how it failed in “sorting out” the Interior Ministry. I spent the first two days listening to stories of torture by the police force, which is not only adamantly resisting reform, but also seeking revenge for being defeated by the downtrodden, the guilty and the innocent.

From their stories I discover the truth of the great achievements of the restoration of security. Two of my colleagues are in jail for the first time, simple youth without a grain of violence. And what is it they are accused of? Forming a gang. Now I understand what the Interior Ministry means when it reports that it has caught armed gangs. I congratulate the country for the restoration of security then.

In the following few hours, sunlight will enter our always dim cell, we read the creative Arabic engravings of a former colleague, four walls from floor to ceiling covered in Quran, prayers, supplications, thoughts and what appear to be the will of a tyrant to repent.

The next day we discover in the corner the date of the inmate’s execution and we are overwhelmed by tears.

The guilty plan on repenting, but the innocent do not know what to do to avoid a similar fate.

On the radio I hear the speech of his Excellency the General inaugurating the tallest flag pole in the world, one which will certainly enter the record books. And I wonder: Was the inclusion of the name of the martyr Mina Daniel as one of the instigators in my case also a record in audacity? On the basis of it not being sufficient for them to be first to kill the victim and to walk in the funeral but also to spit on the corpse and accuse it of a crime?

Or perhaps this cell can win the record of the number of cockroaches? My thoughts are interrupted by Abu Mailk: “I swear to God Almighty, if the wronged are not absolved, this revolution will not succeed.”

The third day, 1/11/2011Cell 19, Prison of Appeal, Bab Al KhalqAlaa Abdel Fattah