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February 10, 2011

Mubarak to leave "in dignity"?

The Canadian Charger

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What next in Egypt? The U.S. has gone back and forth, at one point saying that change must occur "yesterday", and then the tune changed. "We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The President must stay in office to steer those changes," said special envoy Frank Wisner.

And Hillary Clinton wants “to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now vice-president Omar Suleiman.”

Suleiman has been the head of Egypt’s notorious CIA-like, the Mukhabarat.

As for Hosni Mubarak, we are told that he is as proud man and must be allowed to leave in dignity after his long years of service.  Leave in dignity? He is a criminal who should be charged in court of law for crimes he committed against his people for the last 30 years.

A key issue is what is to happen until the needed changes occur, if they occur.

Always in the past, Mubarak has stalled, promising reforms, free elections, etc., but it is porridge yesterday and porridge tomorrow, never porridge today.  He simply does not keep his word. 

So what is happening now? 

We saw the secret service in action in Tahrir Square, attacking the peaceful protesters with stones, swords, Molotov cocktails, horses, camels, and even some gunshots.  We know it was the work of the secret service because protesters managed to capture some of them and in searching them found their secret service identity cards.  (They are brutal, but not too bright.) 

Journalists have also been targeted by the secret police during the current upheavals.  Two New York Times reporters described the conditions in the prison where they were incarcerated because they had come to Cairo to report on the events there.  While they personally were not physically tortured, they heard the sounds of beatings being administered to other people and the screams of the victims.  One torturer accused his victim of “talking to journalists.” 

The tortures meted out to people by the secret police and in the prisons are long-standing and cruel.  Ahmad El Maati, a Canadian, was imprisoned and tortured in Syria as a consequence of information about him supplied to Syria by Canadian official sources.  When Syria found out that he was from Egypt, they transferred him there.  According to El Maati, the Egyptian torture was worse.  Aside from the prisons and the secret police, the ordinary police can also be brutal.  So during Clinton’s “transition process”, will the tortures continue apace?  It appears so. 

While Western governments were critical of the attack on the demonstrators, what about the ongoing torture as usual in the prisons and at the hands of the secret police? 

Incidentally, it is Canada’s position that Mubarak’s departure should not be rushed.  Harper and company are concerned about the implications of Mubarak’s removal for the future relations between Egypt and Israel, a concern that was conveyed to Canada and everyone else by Israel’s diplomatic corps.

Let us turn now to President Mubarak’s personal future. 

All kinds of sympathy are being expressed about his need to leave in dignity.  Not.  He has been a dictator, a torturer, and a killer. 

Rather than a dignified departure, he should be subject to criminal procedures.  Charges may be laid in Egypt but, failing that, there may be grounds for charging him before the International Criminal Court. 

The charge of crimes against humanity requires that murder and torture rise to that level “if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.”  Since incarceration in Egypt is a virtual guarantee of torture, and since thousands have been victimized, an argument can be made that the practice is at least systematic.  It might also be described as widespread as well.

A case could be made for negotiating his rapid departure in exchange for not going forward with charges, depending on his cooperation. 

If he leaves, the positive results for Egypt may outweigh the call for justice.  A Latin proverb, Fiat iustitia, pereat mundus, proclaims that justice should prevail even if the world would perish as a result. 

My own preference would be for peace, order, and good government even at the expense of letting him off the hook.  But if he drags his feet, on to the court.  Much the same can be said of his torturer-in-chief Omar Suleiman. 

Ahmed Shafik, appointed by Mubarak as prime minister, appears to be one member of his new government about whom a good word might be said.  He apologized profusely and apparently sincerely for the attack on the peaceful demonstrators and said he would seek out the guilty parties.  He will find them in the highest echelons of his own government.

The Canadian Charger’s editor, Egyptian-born Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, who has been in Cairo during the turmoil, which he prefers to call Egypt’s pro-democracy revolution, adds:

“Canada should not offer safe haven to dictators, their families, and their minions.

  1. Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazief and ex-Minister of Housing Mohamed Ibrahim have PhD’s from McGill and are Canadian citizens. If they return to Canada, they should be charged with crimes against humanity and corruption.”  

Photo by Dr. Mohamed Elmasry, Cairo’s Liberation Square, Feb 1, 2011.

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M. Elmasry

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