On Wednesday, September 14, 2011, writer “Osama Gharib” published this letter in Tahrir Newspaper (one of the highly circulated papers in
now). The letter did not grab the attention of many people, so I decided to translate it, publish it, and spread it around as much as I can due to its importance. Egypt
The letter is from a medical student named “Mahmoud Hosni Rashid”, and in it, he is narrating his severe experience with the “Egyptian Military”.
I hope you read the letter carefully, and ask yourself the right questions, before looking for answers for a lot of questions that will come up to your mind while reading it.
“My name is Mahmoud Hosni Rashid, 21 years old, a student in the Fifth Division, Faculty of Medicine “El-Kasr Al-Aini”,
. Cairo University
On September 10, 2011, I finished college at about 5:00 pm, and went to Dokki, with my friend, to get my suit, as it was being washed and ironed in a "Dry clean" shop there, just before the statue of "Ahmed Shawki”. And after getting it, we took a bus, heading to El-Kasr al-Aini again.
As the bus was passing on the University Bridge, we saw the military police beating young protesters with thick sticks on both sides of the bridge; this is when an old woman in her fifties ( I do not know at al), shouted out from the window of the bus saying:
"Haram…Haram…You can’t do this to these young people"
Suddenly, a number of soldiers, accompanied by three officers stopped the bus, got on board and attacked the elderly woman, beating her brutally while insulting her, with the dirtiest words. Before one of the passengers of the bus (as if showing courtesy to the military police, and the Army) started to hit the woman too!!
Without thinking, I found myself saying to the solider, standing next to me:
"This is only an old woman, how could you hit her like this, and leave one of the passengers does that too?”
Suddenly a senior officer among them, do not know his rank, but he had an eagle and two Stars on his shoulder insulted me, and told the soldiers:
“Get me this son of a bitch, get him off the bus”
With no hesitation, they started beating me up with the same thick sticks, until they got me off the bus. While the bus went off, with my friend and the old woman in it.
On the side of the bridge, the soldiers and officers started beating me brutally with sticks and electrified batons, while the officers asking me:
"What party or organization you belong to, you son of a bitch??"
The soldiers ordered me to remove my clothes off, and they removed the sandals i wore, and threw it in the Nile leaving me bare foot, while a senior officer among them threw my suit in the Nile as well, and took my books to throw it too, when i begged him and shouted:
“Please I've got exams soon, and in need of these books”
However, and without showing any sympathy, he insulted me again and threw the books in the
Throughout all of this, the beating and insults of the soldiers and officers did not stop, and i was lying on the ground in pain, when one of the officers told me:
"I swear to god, I can throw you in the
Nile now, and no one will ever know where you are, or what happened to you”
I tried to speak, but failed, due to the beating and the severity of pain. I wanted to tell them, i am also against the attack on the “Israeli Embassy”, and i like the Egyptian army and have no problems what so ever with, and what I said in the bus, was because I saw an assault on an elderly and weak woman by everyone, and felt I needed to say just one word:
"This is only, an old woman!!"
As i thought, what if my mother was in her place? Of course, i would have not allowed by any means, the occurrence of such insults, and beating... but they did not leave me any chance to talk or speak...it is only when i said:
“I am a student in the
here in “El-Kasr El-Aini” School of Medicine
When the soldiers shouted at me and said:
“Run away from here you son of a bitch, run as fast as you can!!”
So I ran barefoot, till I reached the middle of the bridge, when another group of soldiers saw me, and started beating me up again violently, I succeeded in running away from them , to meet a third group, that kept hitting me brutally until I reached the end of the bridge.
In front of a “Salahuddin mosque ”, a young guy who saw what happened to me, helped me (as I couldn’t walk any more) till I reached a shop where I bought a pair of slippers to wear.
Then, and despite the pain I felt i went to the Giza police department to state and make a record of what happened to me, and issue minutes of the incident. This is when a senior officer laughed at me and said:
"What you think will happen? Nothing of value will happen, and you will not get anything from all of this"
However, I insisted on what I wanted to do. And after waiting for an hour, a younger officer made a record of what happened to me, and told me, if i want, i can follow the case in the “military prosecution department” in Nasr City. And refused to give me a copy of the record!!, and said that I can get a copy from the military prosecution department?!, But warned me at the same time, that if I went there, they will put me in jail and I will lose my future. So I took the record number which is “10 military offenses” and left.
So, what do I do now? And how can I get my right and dignity back??”
Hosni Mahmoud Rashid
To begin with…
Again, let us stop for a while trying to look for answers, and make some real efforts to ask the right questions. If there’s a problem in this revolution, and if you asked me about our biggest mistake, I’ll tell you, that we are all trying to give answers, without asking the right questions.
Let me explain…
Back when I was in school, exactly in the 6th grade, I had an English teacher who taught me something, I will never forget. He once told me,
“it’s not important to always give the right answer, as answers differ from one person to another, depending on many things…as there’s no such a thing as “the right answer”…but, always try to ask the right questions, as in order to understand anything, you should always ask the right questions”
What is the first question that came up to your mind after reading this letter?
I am sure lots people will say,
“My god!! Is this true??”
And that will be definitely the wrong question to ask, because I can assure you, it’s true, as “Mahmoud Hosni Rashid”, is not the first case. We have thousands like Mahmoud who were arrested, given an unfair trial (a military trial), tortured, and put in jail for no reason. But more than this, Mahmoud’s case won’t be the last as long as we continue asking the wrong questions.
Therefore, in the next few lines I’ll try to ask some questions, that am not sure will be the right questions or not…but I’ll give it a shot, and I hope anyone who reads this letter, make this attempt too.
So that maybe, we can find answers to what is happening now in
after the revolution. Egypt
Did we make a “Revolution”?
“Yes”… absolutely we did …
However, I guess, we are being pushed to make another…
Since the first day, this revolution was summarized in three words:
“ BREAD , FREEDOM , AND JUSTICE ”
And despite the first word, which needs more than the military, and the government to achieve for the poor people of
, who make up more than 40% of the population. Egypt
I think we did not achieve the “Freedom” or the “Justice”.
Where is the freedom, when you see an old woman being beaten up, and you cannot stop it, or even condemning it by words?
Moreover, where is the justice, when a medical student is beaten up brutally and humiliated by taking his cloth off, and left bare foot on the street?
Where are we heading?
Am sorry to say this…but, we are heading to a “military dictatorship” for sure, and faster than we all think.
It always scares me giving someone, a government, a group of people, a party, you name it…”Excessive and unlimited Power”, and that what we did, with the SCAF, because history taught us that excessive power will always lead to corruption, and corruption will always lead to violence.
The most important observation you get from this letter, is that the army is replacing the “State Security”, and the violent police we had before the revolution.
And I know lots, of people and politicians hate to say this, most of them always say, they have no problems with the army, but they have problems with the SCAF as it’s in charge now and acting as the president temporarily in this critical stage …
However, I will say it…I do have a problem with the army…
Because it is apparent from the letter, and the many cases of torture committed by the army, that the beating and torture is done systematically, which means that the army (soldiers and officers) are trained to do so, and it is not their first time, just like the police.
Nevertheless, I think the SCAF reached the point where they do not know how to rule or control the country anymore, and that what scares me the most.
Because when the SCAF keep the military trials, and not only this, but implement “emergency law” again. If it shows anything, it shows that the SCAF are using the excessive and unlimited power they have, and the unfair laws they’ve got, because they are weak…a strong country, with a strong government will never use excessive power, or unfair laws, on it’s people.
The SCAF reached a dead end…
They don’t want to negotiate or discuss anything anymore, with anybody…so they are just enforcing what they think on everyone by force!! (For god sake, take a look how laws are passed and implemented, without taking anyone’s opinion).
Moreover, please do not buy what they say on national television, that “emergency law” will be only implementing on thugs, thieves, and people who break the law. They said the same thing, when they implemented “military laws and trials”…so, am simply expecting what is worse by implementing “emergency law”.
Plus, if you can’t stop breaking the law with “military laws and trials”, you will stop it with “emergency law”?!...and I have to ask, who is breaking the law more than the army these days??
Normally, am not a pessimistic person, and by the way, still am optimistic, but I cannot hide my fears, and not saying that am scared from what has been happening lately.
What should be done?
Many things should be done…as for a while now, we’ve been too peaceful and trusting the army more than we are supposed to (I think we shouldn’t trust them at all), but we did…and did nothing about it for a while, so things got accumulated…and as we can’t do everything at once…we should be specific, so,
(1) Essam Sharaf government should resign, if this incident happened in any democratic country that respects its citizens and the law, the whole government would have resigned by now, and I do not believe the Egyptian people who made an inspirational revolution are less than any country. Not to mention, that Essam Sharaf and his government have failed in all the challenges they faced, and the challenges are many, i don’t have to mention them all, last of which was the recent Egyptian – Israeli conflict on the background of killing innocent Egyptian soldiers on Egyptian soil and borders. And worse, to be just a puppet in the hands of the SCAF, is something we should all question.
(2) We should do everything we can to stop this mess called “Military Trials” for civilians. It does not make any sense giving the people who made the revolution an “unfair trial”, while doing all your best to give Mubarak, his sons, and government a fair trial.
(3) “Emergency Law” must not be implemented again, enough ruling Egyptians with such laws that destroyed for years their dreams, passion, and hopes for a better country, and was the cause for all their torture and suffering.
(4) It’s better for the “Minister of Interior”, to gather, and do their work now!! And by work I don’t meant beating up protestors but arresting the thugs who do so (and sadly, many of which take orders from the police!!). Not to mention kicking out all their men, who tortured, humiliated, and killed innocent Egyptians. They better clean their mess; start all over again, on basis of justice.
(5) The army should not interfere that much in politics (I think they should not interfere at all), we have a civil government (that should be changed), and they are the ones obliged to do so.
(6) We must not stop protesting, rallying, and demonstrating. Remember, if we achieved anything, it was the result of these civil movements and actions.
(7) Mahmoud Hassan Rashid, left both his mobile and home number, give him a call, and show your support, he needs this the most. You have no idea how he is feeling now, remember, torturing and humiliating someone is like killing him/her softly, as it leaves side effects and pain that will live with him/her forever. Moreover, what is worst is feeling that you cannot get your right back, and take your revenge.
(8) Spread this article, and letter, as much as you can, this is the least positive thing you can do for Mahmoud, (I believe we should all do more than this, but this is the least thing we can do for him, and am not asking you to go protest in the streets, it’s something in your hand, that you can do from your home, while having a cup of coffee, or lying in your bed)
(9) We shall never be silenced again, lots of people might decide after reading this letter, not to interfere in anything involving the army, more than this, not even condemning any wrong doings that occur in front of their eyes. If you reached this conclusion, I can assure you, that you did not get Mahmoud’s letter. Mahmoud showed us bravery at its finest forms, and we should all do like him, and show our bravery, as it’s this bravery, that ended 30 years of dictatorship, and we need to get it back.
I asked three questions, and I hope they were the right questions. Nevertheless, I hope everyone who reads this article, and precisely Mahmoud’s letter, attempt to ask his/her own questions. And I’ll be glad, if you share it with me, to publish and discuss.
However, I left one last question until the end, to sum everything up. The fourth question is:
Can what happened to “Mahmoud Hosni Rashid’s” happen to you?
Whenever, “Khaled Saeed’s” case is brought up, you always find a number of people saying, he must have done something wrong to deserve this, as for sure his incident will never happen to anyone walking peacefully on the street.
I even had a debate once with one of my friends, who told me:
“You, want to tell me, that if you (me) were walking on the street, the police can stop you, beat you up to death, or even arrest you, and take you to jail, for no reason, just like that”
And my answer was,
“What prevents it??”
Till now and thanks to our laws, and the implementation of every unfair law we have by the army, the ugly truth is, nothing prevents the police or the army from doing anything!!
The military police, and the police, can arrest anyone, at any time, give him a military trial, get a 2 to 5 years sentence, and that is it, just like that, you lose your future, career, and everything.
Moreover, be aware, you are not far away from all of this, and if you think you are far away you are fooling yourself. Mahmoud was not protesting, or in a sit-in in “Tahrir square” when all of this happened to him, Mahmoud was in a bus, going back home, after getting his suit from a dry clean shop!!, more than this he was against what happened to the Israeli embassy!!. So, trust me you are not far away…
No one is far away….