The following testimonies were collected by activists in Cairo:
1- Testimony on a Visit to El-Marg Police Station to seek Information and Check-on a Group of 14 men Accused of Immorality
10 November 2013
On Thursday the 17 October 2013, I was exposed to verbal harassments and insults by a police officer (who refused to mention his name) in El-Marg police station. I’ve been there at 8 am to ask about a group of 14 men who’ve been arrested on the 11 October 2013 from a health club in El- Marg after being accused of “habitual practice of debauchery”.
This incident happened on the 3rd day of Eid Al-Udha (religious festival) as I had to head to the police station, in an attempt to ask about the arrested group, since there has been absence of information and clarifications regarding the arrest and detention. I had to claim to be a journalist to guarantee not being harassed or face any violation during my visit to the police station. I had made earlier agreements with friends to keep them alerted in case something wrong happened to me in the police station for any reason. I arrived to the police station after a trip in a cab that took almost 50 minutes till we reached. Once I reached the front gate of the police station I asked soldiers who have been standing outside about the possibility of gathering information about the arrests for a report I was working on, they told me to head to the information office which I actually did. In the office there were two men, two police officers I believed, one of them was wearing his uniform while the other wasn’t, I couldn’t identify their ranks. They welcomed me with a suspicious smile, I told them I was a journalist in a mission for covering the story of arresting the group of 14 men but I didn’t use the word “homosexual” to identify them and used a common term socially used to stigmatize the act to avoid raising any doubts by police officers.
One of the police officers was really uncertain whether to help me or not, he eventually agreed after the other man told him “Come on, this journalist is here to do a report on how police officers have done their best during the feast to protect moralities of the state, and how we arrested faggots, and sexual harassers as well…achievements of the police”.
Before answering my questions the uncertain police officer looked at me and said “Do you know that I am the one who received the complaint of the neighbors, the one that guided us to arrest the group of 14 men?”, he said it with pride. I asked him about what was said in the complaint, he answered saying “They said the place had drug addicts and immoral acts, so we sent a task force and surprisingly they didn’t take much time till they arrested the 14 men, and sorry for my language, as most of them were already fucking each other in the closed rooms in the club when the soldiers would knock on the doors. You can say they were caught in action”.
I asked the police officer to describe the club for me, so he said “It’s an ordinary health club with gymnastics equipments, steam rooms and closed massage rooms”, He looked at me and asked in a humiliating and sarcastic tone “Come on dude, you’ve never been in one of those rooms with any one before?”.
I ignored the comment by laughing and making fun of it, but he insisted on harassing and insulting me once more by saying “You know that those who were fucked in that place used to pay, while those who used to fuck wouldn’t pay a penny, so would you like to pay or go for free?”, he went on laughing, he and the other man, I had to smile and answer “No sir, neither nor, I am here to do my work”.
When I asked about the ages of the 14 men, it seems that the police officer didn’t understand my question well as his answer was “well 7 of them were negative and 7 of them were positive”. I
didn’t understand or I was shocked enough not to understand, he interrupted asking “You know what’s negative and positive?”.
It was obvious to me that he was asking to know if I was gay or not as these terms were being used among some groups of gay men, so I answered quickly “Oh, well it’s only because of my work as a journalist, it happens that I meet such terms in newspapers or similar cases, but tell me sir how did you know this piece of info?”.
His colleague was the one who answered saying “well, there’s medical test and…”, before the sentence was completed he got interrupted by the other police officer, I understood he didn’t want me to know if they forced the arrested men to go through anal examinations or not, he later completed saying “Well this whole medical test comes later after a permission from the prosecution office, but we don’t wait, we have our own vision”. The comment made me ask “What do you mean by your own vision?”, so he answered saying in a very confident tone “Like when you find someone, and sorry for my language, who only has two balls but no penis, do you think he was fucking or getting fucked? Aren’t you a man? You definitely understand”.
In addition to what was said, the hints, indicators and harassments, I managed to know that the ages of the 14 men varied from early 20ths till late 60ths, I also managed to know that the siblings and families of the arrested men have been treated in a humiliating way and that the 14 men were left naked or semi naked in jail for couple of days The evidence is a story that was told by the other police officer whom I asked whether the families of the arrested men would visit them or not, he said confidently “well I remember that I saw the prisoners wearing clothes the last shift, So I guess their families paid them a visit”. Also during my visit to the police station which didn’t last for more than 15 minutes I noticed that the police officers were mocking the families of the 14 men, especially that some of the old men among the 14 arrested men, are married and have sons or daughters who would go to ask about them and discover what happened so they would be shocked then mocked and made fun of by the police officers, it happened at least with a brother of one of the 14 men when he went to another police station to ask about his brother, so a police officer in that station called El-Marg police station to ask about the man who turned out to be one of the 14 men, when that officer from the other police station knew the reason for why the man was arrested he told El-Marg’s officers “Fuck, so his brother is being fucked and he shows up here acting as a man… I’ll fuck him up”.
This is exactly what happened to me in this 15-20 minutes visit to El-Marg police station as I had to leave immediately being afraid of raising any more suspicions especially that police officers of higher ranks had started to arrive by the time I left.
I knew later that the prosecutor renewed the detention of the group for 15 days which makes their upcoming hearing and round of investigation on the 12 November 2013. There’s a possibility that the prosecution renew their detention for another 15 days, among other possibilities. It’s confirmed by now that they were forced to do forensic tests but the results are not out yet, and again there’s this fear that the report may accuse any of them of being “used analy” which could make the situation worse and uglier. The lists of accusations are not limited to “sodomy” but it includes drugs as well.
Amidst worries, fear and tensions we are waiting for 12 November 2013 to give us any piece of information that could help us figure out where the group of 14 men are heading to.
2- Testimony on Detaining Gay Men and One Woman for Pissing the Military Police Off
10 November 2013
On Tuesday the 5 November 2013 at around 3:30 am unexpected call was received. A friend and a community member was calling to inform me that about 70 Gay men were arrested from a private party in the 6th of October City at around 1:30 am after being beaten up severely. According to what we’ve been told they were kept in the police station till 5 pm when they were moved to another police center as the investigations started at 6 pm.
At 6:30 Pm I arrived with a lawyer who has been working on similar cases. We discovered that out of almost 200 people (guests of the party) around 70 were arrested then later all those who looked “masculine and macho” were released. The total number of the remaining people who’ve been investigated with was 10 (9 men including the organizer of the party and one female who was serving as a bar tender in the party). According to the friends of the 10 people their friends were kept for being “effeminate” and wearing makeup in addition to accessories. One of the 10 people is a man in his late 30s who works as a belly dancer whose wife was with him in the party and was taken as a witness. We’ve been told that the reason behind arresting him was the “the belly dancer outfit” he was accused by the police to be wearing.
9 out of the total 10 detainees were accused of sodomy, practicing immoral behaviors and adultery, while the organizer of the party was accused of running immoral and adultery-full- parties. On a side note, the organizer of the party is being known among the Egyptian gay community as events planner who organizes similar parties for gay men to get introduced to each other.
We’ve discovered as well that 3 out of the 10 are minors they are under 18 years old. The investigations lasted for almost 5 hours and half as the stories; testimonies were heard in the presence of the lawyer. It was becoming clear to the lawyer, the friends of the arrested people and even the police employees that the 10 people would be released as there was no proof of adultery or any other crime and also because the police investigators was (according to the arrested people) respectful and understanding.
The 10 people were taken later downstairs and put in the police van while their relatives, friends and I were standing & watching. All of us were waiting for the good news before the lawyer came to tell us that a major shift in the case had happened.
It turned out that the military police (MP) was behind the complaint that led to the arrests as their check point was close to the villa that hosted the party and that they were pissed off at the noise and how the invitees of the party looked like at their arrival to the villa so the MP called the 6th of October’s police station to go check, however I was informed that the police forces went in 3 big vans which means there was an intention to arrest individuals before even checking first. According to the lawyer the MP wanted to the villa to be permanently closed and for this to happen a legal reason and moral lesson were needed. Also according to the lawyer and others, we’ve been told that the prosecutor had already prepared his decision which was basically releasing all of the
arrested people before his boss (the general prosecutor) told him not to, he ordered him to keep the case open and to send the 9 men for forensic tests and anal examinations on the next day (6th of November 2013). The new decision was received with shock, frustration and fear of the tests’ results. It’s believed by most of us that the reason for this shift in decisions was the fact that the general prosecutor wanted to please the army and MP by making a case that would lead to closing the villa permanently. Weirdly enough no one knows why the only female who was arrested with the 9 men would be kept in prison and whether she’d be medically examined as well or not especially that this is a first in similar gay men related cases to find a woman being accused and arrested
In the next day the forensic tests took place and the primary report was in favor of the 10 arrested individuals but since the official report didn’t come out within the first 4 days of jail, it has been decided to keep the 10 people in detention for 15 extra days. The lawyers of the detainees are doing their best to disrupt the decision and take the case to court ASAP (during this week).
In addition to all of the previously mentioned incidents we’ve been told that the effeminate gay men who were arrested were beaten up, fingered, sexually assaulted, called names and insulted as well by police forces. They were forced by police assistants in the 1st police station to clean the bathrooms and offices of the station as a moral punishment for being gay.