These words were said by someone who perhaps did not mean what he said literally, yet somehow, these words changed the life of Rami al-Sayed. All of a sudden he found himself in a cell with no way out.
Rami al-Sayed (29 years) went through a miserable journey, from Cairo to al-Minya prison. It began early in September 2014, when he went with his friends to Bolak al Dakror to visit the family of Ahmed al Masry (a friend and a martyr).
Ahmed Al Masry, a member of 6th April Movement, was killed in September 2013 as a result of getting shot by security forces while he was walking on his way to work in Mostafa Mahmoud square on August 14th, 2013, on the background of clashes that took place after the dispersal of Rabaa and al-Nahda sit-ins.
Unfortunately, security forces attacked Rami and his friend in front of al Marsy’s house. He was arrested along with 9 members of 6th April Movement and the prosecution accused them with demonstrating and gathering.
The prosecution released them two days later because there was no evidence except for two publications. The prosecution was about to reserve the case for lack of serious accusations.
Rami, a graduate of Faculty of Al-Alsun and a translator, thought that everything is back to normal and that he can go on with his life and career. But it seems that he was wrong. A year after he was released, on October 8th, 2015, Rami was surprised to know that Giza Criminal Court, presided over by Judge Nagi Shehata, reopened the case and sentenced Rami and his friend in absentia to life on charges of gathering and possession of firearms.
The Investigation Detective Department hindered his release, as they asserted in their report that he had escaped from a judiciary ruling. However, Rami’s lawyers submitted a request to repeat the trial procedures. The decision of his detention was upheld and the prosecution refused to release him.Rami was startled while returning to prison, this time, he will spend 25 years. A verdict issued by a judge who did not even see Rami. He recalled his previous experience and wrote a letter of agony.
“You will never see the light again”
He told me so when he was interrogating me, after arresting me for giving my condolences to the family of my friend Ahmed Abdin AKA Ahmed Al Masry, God bless his soul, it was his first death anniversary” wrote Rami al Sayed from his cell.
He continued in his letter: This sentence drew my attention, I mentioned it to my friends, we used to laugh about it, but deep inside I felt that it will come true. Months later, after my release, and after a year, I suddenly found out that I was secretly tried in a criminal court, terrorism department and now I am sentenced to life in absentia, my sentence was handed down by “The king of executions and life sentences”, at that moment I knew that what the officer interrogating me said was a prophecy, I will not be able to mention his name, because I was blindfolded.
He added: “He was asking me ridiculous questions about espionage, treason, fourth, fifth, sixth generation war and all accusations leveled against the 6th April Movement and he concluded with the words you will never see the light.”
He continues: “I took his words lightly, recalling a scene from a movie where the protagonist was saying: ‘don’t kill me, don’t eat me, don’t crunch me’”.
“another sentence I recall now: you will never attend a funeral anymore. It is strange that this is another prophecy that came true… I was never able to attend the funeral of my uncle Hassan, we had disputes over political views, but still, he is my uncle, we loved one another.” He ended his letter: “God bless your soul uncle Hassan, may you rest in peace, I hope I do not lose another loved one”.
Things did not go well with Rami, two years later, on December 22nd, 2016, he was transferred to Al Minya Prison where he was beaten and tortured by police personnel and he then decided to go on hunger strike.
On January 2017, “A nation without Torture” website published a letter from Rami saying: “When I reached al Minya Prison, there were a number of police vehicles coming from different prisons. I shared the same vehicle with 44 political prisoners. When we arrived we were met by a storm of insults, all of a sudden, a man with civilian clothes stood before me – later I knew he was an assistant detective called Ahmed D. – asked me to take off my clothes, he was insulting me with offensive words, then he started, along with other detectives, to beat me on my face and body, throwing and dragging me on the floor as they were beating me with their hands and legs.
He added: “I was beaten by about 8 or 10 detectives and a captain, Ahmed D. was calling me names, stating that these were the orders of the minister himself. He added: ‘I do not care if you complain, I will tie you to a motorcycle and drag you naked all over the prison floor.’ Then I was blindfolded, tied to a pole, 30 minutes later they untied me, kept beating me, took me back to the reception yard to shave my hair, they threw me on my stomach, dragged me, and a police officer was kicking me on my head and beating me on my body.”
“The officer threatened me with “Farag” (a code name used in Egypt for those who rape prisoners) they shaved my hair, then I returned back to Ahmed D. who continued beating me, threatening me that this will be the way I am treated for as long as I am in prison and that I should expect more… this took place while I was totally naked except for the underwear, they took everything I have and threw me in a solitary confinement cell.”
“On the first day I was deprived of food, the next day the sergeant brought me some food but I refused to eat and informed him that I am on a hunger strike. Worries were raised in prison, the prison warden, who attended my torture, summoned me trying to soften his attitude pretending to be concerned about my health, yet I insisted on clinging onto my rights”.
“We did not reach an agreement, they tried several times to make me end my hunger strike, even the deputy of the prison warden transferred me to another more humane cell (a cell where they hold those accused of squandering public funds), however, I went on with my strike. The head of the detective department met me and kept apologizing to me, I told him that I will not abandon my right and I will hold Ahmed D. accountable.
They never filed a report though, to appease me they brought me my textbooks. They had confiscated my textbooks, cigarettes, mineral water, juice, hygiene tools, and my clothes. I continued my strike and my letters were confiscated. On the sixth day of strike, the prison warden came to my cell, comforting me, acting as if he were a kind person, he said that nobody will beat me anymore, he recounted my case details although he was not attending my torture, yet he is the one who is responsible for the prison.”
“It was weird that I did not receive any visits, although the deputy warden told me that they will inform my family that they can come and visit me. I started to doubt the situation, I thought that my strike is not fruitful, but I insisted on holding Ahmed D. accountable. I did not see anybody until he brought me some things sent by my family, they were trying to calm me down.”
After this letter, a social media campaign was launched demanding “improving his prison conditions and his release” under the hashtag #SaveRamialSayed. On this hashtag all details of his torment were recounted, on another hand, his lawyer decided to submit a complaint to the Public Prosecution, accusing officer Ahmed al Deeb in al Minya prison of torturing his client.
On the 28th of June, the Court of Cassation, upheld the verdict issued by Nagi Shehata in South Giza Criminal Court to imprison Rami al Sayed for ten years in the case known as “The funeral detainees”.