Al-Masry Al-Youm spent three hours in total in the torture chambers established by the Muslim Brotherhood at the gates of the Ittihadiya Palace in the suburb of Heliopolis. The central torture chamber, which is located in front of the gate facing the Omar Ibn Abdel Aziz Mosque on al-Merghany Street, is secured with a cordon and iron barriers, where the Central Security Forces (CSF) prevent the access of any persons without the authorization of the Brotherhood.
We entered the chamber with a great difficulty, after a fellow journalist from the Misr 25 TV channel facilitated. The channel is owned by the Brotherhood. There are brigades and police officers in military uniforms, as well as others in civilian clothes from al-Nozha police station, who oversee the beatings, whippings and torture. Fifteen others from the group, distinguished by their strong bodies, are supervised by three bearded and well-dressed men who decide who will be in the chamber and who may leave, even if the person is a member of the Brotherhood.
The torture process starts once a demonstrator who opposes President Mohammed Morsi is arrested in the clashes or is suspected after the clashes end, and the CSF separate Morsi’s supporters from his opponents. Then, the group members trade off punching, kicking and beating him with a stick on the face and all over his body. They tear off his clothes and take him to the nearest secondary torture chamber, from which CSF personnel, members of the Interior Ministry and the State Security Investigations Services (SSIS) are absent.
It is hard to determine how many locations there are, given that the torture chambers are established as near as possible to where a person is arrested. Before the interrogation process starts, they search him, seize his funds, cellphones or ID, all the while punching and slapping his face in order to get him to confess to being a thug and working for money.
They ask him why he took to the street, whether he got paid to take part in the protest and whether he supports Mohamed ElBaradei, founder of the Constitution Party, or Hamdeen Sabahi, founder of the Egyptian Popular Current or the dissolved Egyptian Nationalist movement. As long as this person denies the allegations, they beat him and insult his parents. After that, a person will videotape the interrogation and contact the Misr 25 TV channel to tell them about the interrogation and arrest.
After a while, the detainee is transported from the secondary torture chamber to the central one. On his way, the beatings and insults continue. Every time the prisoner encounters a member of the Brotherhood, that person gets in his share of the insults and beatings. They also may collectively insult him before he enters the central room, while a Brotherhood lawyer hands over his national ID card, his funds and his belongings to the SSIS chief. Some members of the group claim to have seized weapons from the detainee and handed them over to the officers at al-Nozha police station. However, we were unable to verify that.
A young detainee shouted in the faces of the men in the chamber: “I am a bearded sheikh, and Sheikh Safwat Hijazi will avenge me. I am a friend of all sheikhs. God is all I need and he is the best guardian; I am a Muslim just like you.” Another bleeding man said, “I am educated; I am not a thug, leave me alone.” A third person, born in the region of Sayyida Zaynab, was accused of following Fathi Srour, former speaker of the People's Assembly, and got a significant share of the beatings.
The health conditions of some of the prisoners was very bad and they were unable to answer questions. Some of them were bleeding all over their bodies, severely exhausted and not receiving any medical aid. However, some got a bottle of water to drink or something to use to stop their bleeding.
Once 10 people had been arrested, police officers and state security chiefs in the chamber demanded that the three Muslim Brotherhood leaders in the room secure passage for the prisoners to the nearby al-Nozha police station and prevented the Brotherhood members from attacking them again.
This all really happened.
Once the arrested group left, another arrived. Outside the central torture chamber, three people were detained and brought into the security room within the palace at the main gate on Al-Ahram Street.
The Brotherhood youth don't have control over this location. Their role ends once they hand over the arrestees to the guards. We successfully took a picture of one of the detained men, but the other two were already in the palace. The Brotherhood youth accused one of them of possessing a weapon and shooting a member of the group. Some detainees remained in the secondary torture chambers and were not handed over to the state security officers.
We left the place and found blood flowing on the sidewalk of the palace. Someone had tried to cover the blood with soil to remove it. However, no one will be able to clean the image of this blood from the memory of Egyptians for hundreds of years.