Thursday, February 14, 2013

Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman: Still waiting for justice after soldiers attacked her | Amnesty Internatio​nal

Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman: Still waiting for justice after soldiers attacked her

Request an investigation into the attack and compensation for her injuries.
Please add your name to Amnesty International’s petition to the Egyptian authorities to order an investigation into the attack on Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman, prosecute her attackers, and compensate her for her injuries.

Azza’s Story

In late 2011, mass protests broke out again in Egypt as hundreds of thousands expressed their growing frustration with the interim military government and upcoming elections.

On December 17, 2011, 49-year-old Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman and a male friend were leaving a demonstration near Tahrir Square when they stopped to help a young woman. A group of soldiers had pulled the woman’s clothes down to expose her and beaten her badly. When the protesters tried to intervene and carry the young woman away, the soldiers turned their attention to the would-be rescuers. They shot Azza`s friend in the knee. Azza was knocked to the ground and beaten on her head and face. The beating continued even after she lost consciousness. Azza was left with a fractured skull and memory problems.

Activists captured the attack on Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman on video and posted it on-line, sparking outrage and further protests. > Watch a video news report from CNN (newscaster cautions viewers of the graphic nature of the report).

Azza`s family filed a complaint against the army at a police station. She gave her testimony to the Public Prosecution in February 2012. Over one year later, however, no one has been held accountable for the brutal attack on Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman.

The January 25 Revolution

At the beginning of 2011, the world watched as millions gathered in Cairo`s Tahrir Square and throughout the country in defiance of 30 years of emergency rule and repression in Egypt. The ``January 25 Revolution`` lead to the resignation of president Mubarak on February 11, 2011 and inspired mass protest movements protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa. But change came with a heavy price. Security forces and “thugs” hired by the authorities killed at least 840 people and injured more than 6,000 during the protests. Thousands of activists were detained; many were tortured. Those targeted included human rights defenders, online activists, journalists, volunteers bringing supplies to protesters and doctors treating the injured.

Two years later, promises of reform remain largely unfulfilled. No senior official or security officer has been convicted or justly punished for killing or injuring protestors. Civilians continue to face unfair military trials. Freedom of expression remains under threat.

Attacks on Woman Rights Activists and Protesters in Egypt

Women stood side by side with men during the ``January 25`` revolution, but have for the most part been left out of the reform process and face ongoing and systematic discrimination on a daily basis. The Egyptian Constitution adopted following a public referendum in late December 2012 failed to protect the rights of women and to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender. New sexual harassment legislation promised in October 2012 has yet to materialize. Little is done to prevent, combat and punish violence against women. Many cases go unreported. Those who do file complaints face many barriers.

In late 2012 and early 2013, Amnesty International documented a dramatic increase in the number of violent sexual assaults against women, including rapes, in the vicinity of Tahrir Square.

Several women’s rights activists and others believe that the sexual assaults on women are organized and co-ordinated – possibly by state actors – with the aim of silencing women and excluding them from the political process, and breaking the resistance of the opposition. The perpetrators all use similar tactics in their attacks, which seem designed to degrade and intimidate women.

A similar pattern of sexual harassment and assault against women protesters took place during the rule of President Mubarak. In 2005, for example, groups of men were reportedly hired to attack women journalists taking part in a protest calling for the boycott of the referendum on constitutional reform.

During the interim rule of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (February 11, 2011 to June 30, 2012), women protesters were also targeted, including during demonstrations calling for women’s rights and the end of sexual harassment. The armed forces subjected women protesters to torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment on a number of occasions, apparently on the basis of their gender. One of the most appalling examples was the forced “virginity testing” of 17 women protesters by army personnel on March 9, 2011. To date, no one has been brought to justice for the forced “virginity tests.”

What Else You Can Do

1. Share this action by email and on social media.
2. Write your own letter. A personal letter makes a difference.

Call on the Egyptian authorities to:
  • Open an independent and impartial investigation into the attack by Egyptian soldiers on Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman.
  • Bring anyone found responsible to justice in fair trials.
  • Provide full reparation to Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman, including compensation, for the human rights abuse she suffered at the hand of Egyptian soldiers.

Write to:

President Morsi
Presidential Palace
Arab Republic of Egypt

Fax: +202 239 11 441
Salutation: Dear President

General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
Ministry of Defence and Military Production
23 Al Khalifa Al Ma'moun Street
Arab Republic of Egypt

Fax: +202 2 418 8294
Salutation: Dear General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi