Five years after an explosion of popular resentment against decades of misrule and repression swept aside the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is caught in a steely grip of repression. A sweeping crackdown on dissent has put at least 34,000 persons – by the government’s own admission – and possibly thousands more, behind bars. They include hundreds of leaders and senior officials of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, and numerous other critics and opponents of the government.
The past 18 months have also seen the emergence of a new pattern of human rights violations against political activists and protesters, including students and children, hundreds of whom have been arbitrarily arrested and detained and subjected to enforced disappearance by state agents. Those detained in this way did not have access to their lawyers or families and were held incommunicado outside judicial oversight. Local NGOs allege that an average of three to four people are abducted and arbitrarily subjected to enforced disappearance each day.