This post was written on 20th of March 2011, but i saved it as a draft.
I look at what I wrote back then, the tone with which we were urging people to stand against SCAF, almost desperately, and I feel like this was a far more innocent and naive version of myself, of us.
So much has happened since that day. Many things changed drastically.
On a nostalgic whim, I decided to publish it
To Ragia :)
20-03-2011 ... 12:13 am
Ragia Omran, a family friend who became a dear friend to my heart over the past few weeks. I got to know her closely as we worked together over the issue of " military trials of civilians".
Amazing spirit and wonderful committment to the cause. For days she would go to military prosecution in Madinet Nasr every morning attempting to check on those detained from Tahrir square, dealing with military police disdain ; their repeated refusal to allow her access to detainees or any of their lawyers.
Wednesday 9th of March at night she was so furious that she spent hours trying to check on the detainees and right after she left, they showed some of them on national TV - among them Aly sobhy who was released 4 days later- referring to them as thugs, and falsely accusing them of carrying molotof cocktails & knives & breaking curfew (they were arrested 6 pm- curfew starts at midnight).
We decided in the middle of all these hectic times, and amidst hundreds of calls to detainees' families that we are friends :) This was even more magically blessed when we realized that we both share the same birthday 12th of March, which we celebrated together infront of military prosecution waiting for news on detainees.
Ragia was out today monitoring the referendum on constitutional amendments, as she had an official permit to do so. An army officer asked her to leave and when she refused adamantly, he took exception to that and detained her. I am also sure that finding in her a bag a list of names of those detained by the army didn't really make her more favorable to them.
Ragia is now out after around 5 hrs of detention
This is an example of what the army is doing with citizens. Please don't tell me they are protecting us. Please don't tell me they mistook her for a thug. She is a lwayer and officially credited to monitor the referendum and still they snatched her, refused to reveal her whereabouts for hours to her family or lawyers, and later on refused to allow her lawyers to see her, then went behind their backs ; transferred her to Madinet Nasr.
The army uses "thuggery" to cover for his attacks, abuse, and torture of civilians, and we are empowering them with our silence.
Help us bring an end to army violations. Help us bring an end to military trials of civilians
Sherif Boraie's account on Ragia's detention:
Ragya Omran, lawyer, human rights activist and an officially-accredited elections monitor, was arrested by the military while monitoring today's referendum.
Ragya was at the Bab el Khalq polling station in Cairo. An army officer tried to have her expelled.The attending judge insisted she remain. Ragya told the officer it was he who was legally trespassing as no officers are supposed to be inside the polling station.
When she stepped outside the crowded room to answer her phone, the officer with his soldiers grabbed her and took her to the Cairo Security Directorate next door.
I received a tweet about her arrest around 5:00 and was there ten minutes later. The police officer in the Directorate said it was an army matter, that she was upstairs with Military Investigations, and that I should talk with the army officer at the polling station.
I walked next door and asked an army soldier if I could talk with the officer and explained the nature of the matter. He went inside the polling room and got permission from the officer to take me over. He told me she had insulted an officer.
I walked back to the Directorate with a soldier who took me upstairs to the Military Investigations, took my ID card and returned a few minutes later. "Wait downstairs. She'll be with you shortly." I had been joined by a friend of Ragya's and together we waited.
Friends and activists started pouring in.
A couple of army officers came down. "We don't know what you're talking about. There's nobody here. We don't arrest people."
Tempers amongst Ragya's friends were beginning to rise against the army.
I took the good cop aside and tried to explain that they were making a terrible mistake. This would do irreparable damage to their already tarnished reputation. But to no avail.
Soon the Cairo Security Directorate, the fearful monolith, had more activists than police.
Ragya's parents arrived.
A bit later, her father came out. The crowd had gathered at the steps of the building. "Please leave this area," he said. "They don't like the 'manzar' (scene) and they don't want filming. I just want to get my daughters out," said the distraught father.
I had not mentioned that Ragya was accompanied by her younger sister and an American journalist, Dana Smiley.
We cleared the area out of respect for the father and moved across the street then, after deliberations, further down. At that time, the army let Smiley out. She called as soon as she arrived home.
As we were discussing with the lawyers, one received a call to go immediately to the Military Prosecutor's Office, the infamous dark hole that last week sentenced the 170 protesters forcibly removed from Tahrir 3 to 7 years in military prison.