25 July 2008

Egitto: lettera di un prigioniero eritreo

Abbiamo ricevuto una lettera scritta da un eritreo detenuto nelle carceri egiziane perchè sprovvisto di un titolo di soggiorno. Per ragioni di sicurezza abbiamo omesso il suo nome e il nome della città nella quale è detenuto. La lettera è stata fatta uscire dal carcere nel mese di febbraio 2008. Secondo Amnesty International almeno 810 eritrei sono stati deportati dall'Egitto nella seconda metà di giugno 2008, su un totale di 1.600 eritrei detenuti. Sono soprattutto richiedenti asilo politico, disertori dell'esercito eritreo, che viaggiano in direzione di Israele. Si tratta della più grande deportazione mai organizzata negli ultimi anni dall'Egitto. Una deportazione che segna il passo di una nuova stagione di repressione, fatta di arresti e omicidi lungo la frontiera.

Leggi anche Egitto: continua la deportazione di massa degli eritrei

"Dear Sir/Madam,
We the above mentioned refugees would like to appeal to you about our situation and the suffering we are facing in ……..Police station cells. We fled our country to escape the harsh treatment from our own government. We traveled through Sudan and entered Egypt without any legal documents. We did this in order to save our lives. After crossing the border, we were caught by the Egyptian border guards who brought us to the police station of……….

Dear Sir/Madam, the suffering we face in the police cells can be described as follows:

1. When we were arrested we were arraigned in military courts. They talked to us in Arabic which we did not understand. We had no clue of what they were talking about and we did not have a legal representative or translator. We did not know the charge brought against us nor the sentence imposed on us. They did not give us any legal papers about the court's decision. We were just led back to the police station cells where the guards informed us that we were prisoners but they too did not know for how long we were supposed to remain in prison. We are now prisoners for no apparent crime. Our only problem was having entered Egypt in order to save our lives from Eritrean repressive security.

2. We are held in tiny cells which are full of inmates. We are put together with Egyptian criminals who have been charged with murder, robbery, drug trafficking and other crimes. Most Egyptian inmates consume drugs in the cells. The smoke from the drugs they smoke fills the cells and causes us severe headache and sometimes dizziness. In addition to this, when the inmates get intoxicated, they start hitting at each other and use razor blades and needles to cut themselves and other inmates. Many times our bodies and clothes get smeared with blood. It is scary to be in these cells. We are unable to sleep at night. Some our Eritrean companions are minors but are still left in this situation. This is causing us a lot of moral and psychological damage. We have tried to complain with the police but no one cares.

3. Most of us are Christians, while all the Egyptian inmates are Muslims. When they pray, they ask us to pray with them. When we refuse, they call us infidels and start taunting us that we deserve death. Instead, when we want to pray, they start making fun of us or at times threaten us with dire consequences if we dare pray.

4. Some of us have been held here for over six months. The only visits we have had are from religious bodies. But even the time they are allowed to see us is limited. There are so many of us in here that they cannot see us all in the little time given to them. They would be willing to give us food, medicine etc but many times they are not allowed.

5. When we were arrested at the border we had some women and children with us. Some of them are our wives, sisters and children. They remained with us for several days in the same prison. Then the authorities took them away. It is now well over three months and we do not know where and how they are.

6. Due to the congestion and the unhealthy environment in the cells, we are exposed to infections and illnesses. In spite of this, the prison does not offer any medical care. As a result, one of our fellow female refugees by the name ………….passed away three weeks ago. He body is still unburied as no one has claimed it. While we were writing this letter three days ago, one of our comrades got seriously sick. We implored the guard to do something but they only ignored our pleas. This morning he was so serious that we started screaming and banging prison doors to call the attention of the guards. After several hours of screaming, they came in and dragged him away. We hope he was taken for treatment.

If this situation continues for sometime, it is unlikely that we will make it out of this place alive and surely if one is lucky enough to survive this ordeal physically, one might be insane for the rest of his life.

Dear Sir/madam, we kindly implore you to come and see our situation, investigate it thoroughly and take the necessary action.
If you want more information you can contact ….. (name omitted for security reasons)

We thank you in advance for your time and help"