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At least 20 Alexandrian young people forcibly disappeared in the last week

At least 20 Alexandrian young people were taken from their homes by security forces on Thursday and Friday last week and detained and tortured, according to their families and lawyers.

The young men were transported to the security directorate on Tuesday after being initially detained by State Security, Arab African Center for Human Rights director Abdallah al-Naggar, who is following the cases, told Mada Masr. He added that because state officials have not yet acknowledged their detention or referred them to the prosecutor, they are being treated as victims of forced disappearance.

Alexandria-based lawyer Mohamed Ramadan suggested the young men may have been targeted in relation to a previous incident, in which they were arrested while playing football and later released. Prior to their arrest, a police officer was embroiled in a fight with a real estate contractor who ended up burning the officer’s car. The young men were picked up with the intention of framing them for the incident, Ramadan said.

Information has been leaked that three of the young men are in critical condition, but this hasn’t been confirmed, Ramadan added, as little information has been given by the authorities on the incident.  

Naggar suggested state security is intending to frame the young men for the car-burning as part of its efforts to counter a growing youth movement in Alexandria. They have no political affiliations and are not involved in any illegal activities, he said. 

The father of one of the disappeared youths, 15-year-old Anis Mohamed Naguib, told Mada Masr it has been almost a week since his son was disappeared. “We don’t where he is, we haven’t known since Thursday,” he said, adding that the head of Montazah Police Station, Abdel Rahman Sherif, arrived at the family’s house at 8 am on Thursday and took his son.

“I wish I knew the reason why, because the law says after 24 hours the prosecutor should let us know if there is a case, but it’s been seven days," he said. "We’ve been to the police station, we’ve been to the prosecutor, we’ve been to the court and no one will tell us any information. I want there to be a case, with a number, so we can defend ourselves, but there is no law.” 

Activist Mona Seif had posted on Facebook on Monday that security forces broke into the homes of at least 15 Alexandrian students, arresting and assaulting them. Brothers from three families were taken, and when relatives asked where they were told they would find their bodies in the morgue, she added. 

Although there has been hardly any coverage of the disappearances in local media, the Freedom for the Brave campaign also reported on the incident. They identified one of the young men as 20-year-old Abdel Rahman Moataz, who they maintain was kidnapped without an arrest order from the prosecutor and without formal charges.

“Police stormed the building at 7 am on Thursday,” Moataz’s mother posted on Facebook. “They kidnapped him and took him to an unknown location. We have been looking for him in many police stations, but have not been able to find him. They took LE4000 and his S4 mobile phone, even though I told them he was my son. Please pray for my son.”   

Twenty-year-old Amr Gamal was also kidnapped by security forces at 9 am on Thursday and taken to an unknown location, where he was shackled and beaten, Freedom for the Brave said.

Fifteen-year-old Anis Naguib was reportedly kidnapped by security forces in the morning and beaten in front of his family in the street before being taken to an unknown location.

Seventeen-year-old Ahmed Abd al-Salam was kidnapped by security forces at 2 am on Friday, according to his family, who added that security forces smashed and stole possessions from his home. Abd al-Salam’s brother told Freedom for the Brave, “I don’t know where Ahmed is now. He hasn’t contacted us for three days and nobody tells us where to go.”

Others reportedly taken by security forces on Thursday and Friday include: 17-year-old Ahmed Ali, 18-year-old Ahmed Khaled, 18-year-old Abdallah Amr, 17-year-old Marwan Imam, 17-year-old Karm Shaltun, 20-year-old Hashem Abd Al-Diam, 17-year-old Tarek Abd al-Diam and 21-year-old Hossam al-Amrany.

A source at Alexandria Security Directorate confirmed that the 20 young men were transported to the directorate and subjected to extreme torture, Nader al-Sayed wrote on Facebook. Naguib was injured and bleeding, Moataz was paralyzed and Gamal is in a coma, Sayed alleged. He encouraged people to share the news with the hashtag, “Stop the torture in Alexandria.”

Some Facebook users reported that Moataz died as a result of torture, while others suggested the number of young men who were disappeared in the last week has risen to over 20.

Rights groups have reported hundreds of forced disappearances over the past year. The New York-based Human Rights Watch slammed Egypt for its record in a January report, in which they blamed National Security forces for scores of forced disappearances.

Local rights groups have also highlighted what they deem to be a rising number of forced disappearances. In November 2015, several rights groups launched a week-long campaign in protest over this growing trend. 

The Freedom For the Brave campaign documented 164 forced disappearances between April and June 2015, while the human rights group Stop Forced Disappearances reported at least 215 forced disappearances between August and September 2015.