Faces of Egypt’s struggle

2011-08-06 10:36

 Tens of thousands of protesters returned to Tahrir Square in Cairo on July 8. After five months of military rule, they say they don’t believe there will be ­justice without pressure from the street.

With the future of Egypt hanging in the balance, ­Human Rights Watch in April commissioned international portrait photographer Platon to create a portfolio from Tahrir Square.

He focused on telling the story through the portraits of the human rights campaigners, social media activists, ­union organisers, writers, musicians, victims and ­heroes who brought an end to Hosni Mubarak’s 30 years of repressive rule.

Human Rights Watch has documented how impunity paved the way for police ­brutality and torture over the years. Pressured by this latest sit-in, the prime minister ­reshuffled his cabinet and set up a fund to compensate the families of demonstrators shot dead by the police.

But many of the police on trial for the killings have yet to be suspended, genuine ­security reform is yet to take place, repressive laws remain and new ones are being ­introduced.

But the most crucial issue is that, even with Mubarak gone, riot police have continued to use excessive force and the military continues to ­torture detainees. No official body is investigating these abuses, a clear signal there has been no change in ­policing and justice.

Egyptians will never forget the delirium of February 11, the day the hated dictator fell, and newly politicised Egyptians across political and religious divides felt empowered.

With Egypt moving toward parliamentary elections and the direction of the country still uncertain, Human Rights Watch has collaborated with Platon to keep the spirit of Tahrir Square alive and to shine a spotlight on the brave individuals who helped make it happen.

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