Amnesty condemns forced disappearance and murder of schoolteacher in Egypt

Information gathered by Amnesty International suggests that Mohamed Abdel Satar, a schoolteacher, was forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed by Egyptian security forces, according to a report the international rights organization released on Tuesday.

The Interior Ministry issued an official statement announcing Abdel Satar’s death on May 6, claiming that he, along with another person identified as Abdallah Ragab Ali, were both killed in an exchange of fire with security forces in an attempt to arrest them. Both men were alleged to be members of militant groups Hassm and Lewaa al-Thawra and, the ministry claims, were responsible for manufacturing explosives.

However, Amnesty has collected evidence indicating that security forces arrested Abdel Satar from the school where he worked on April 9, 27 days before the Interior Ministry statement.

The evidence includes testimonies from eyewitnesses including several of Abdel Satar’s colleagues, who claim that plainclothes security personnel drove up to the school in a red car and arrested him.  The Amnesty report also references the school’s attendance registry, which shows Abdel Satar’s signature confirming his attendance on April 9 but includes no signature marking his departure from work. Instead, a note referring to his arrest was written.

An official letter from the school administration confirming his arrest was also among the documents submitted to the authorities to report his forced disappearance.

In addition to the eyewitness accounts and official documentation Amnesty claims Abdel Satar’s notebook, which was regularly updated with each day’s teaching plan, proves that the last lesson he taught was on April 9, the day of his arrest.

“The disappearance and death in custody of Mohamed Abdel Satar is the latest in a string of harrowing extrajudicial executions in Egypt. These unlawful killings are routinely celebrated as the successful ‘liquidation of terrorists’ by police, safe in the knowledge that they need not fear investigation for their crimes,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

Security forces in Egypt have been regularly accused of forcibly disappearing suspects, who are later announced dead during alleged security ambushes, or involved in terrorism-related judicial cases. Since 2015, human rights organizations have document hundreds of similar cases.

Recently, an Egyptian human rights organization said that Sabry Mohamed Saeed, allegedly killed in a similar ambush by security forces on June 20, was actually arrested on May 18, corroborated by a Facebook post written by his daughter on June 7, in which she said that her father was forcibly disappeared after his arrest.

Similar practices stirred the anger of the residents of the North Sinai city of Arish, when the Interior Ministry released a list of 10 people allegedly killed in an exchange of fire with police in January 2017. The families reported that at least six of those listed were arrested and forcibly disappeared long before their death.

AD