Pro-democracy activists allege torture by Egyptian soldiers


­A patchwork of blood-red welts and purple bruises cover Ramy Essam’s back, from his neck down to his thighs. His scars are evidence, he said, that violent groups linked to ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime are trying to subvert the revolution.

“There are still some people from the corrupt old regime trying to crush the revolution,” Essam said, lying face down on his bed, where he has spent days waiting for his wounds to heal. “With God’s will, the revolution will continue.”

The 23-year-old student and musician said thugs attacked him and hundreds of others at a peaceful sit-in at Tahrir Square on March 9. Egyptian soldiers were on guard but they didn’t come to his rescue. Instead, Essam said, they detained him and scores of others and hauled him to the nearby Egyptian museum where uniformed soldiers tortured him for four hours and cut off his shoulder-length hair.

“It was pain I never imagined I would feel in my life,” Essam said.

“They took off my clothes. They used sticks, metal rods, wires, whips.” He received electric shocks, he said.

“There was a soldier who would jump in the air and land on my face with his legs.”

Essam is convinced he and others were marked men and women at Tahrir Square that day. For weeks, Essam had sung and played his guitar for large crowds celebrating the end of the Mubarak regime. Moments before he was detained, several men pointed him out to soldiers, he said.

Essam was released, but human rights groups have said more than 100 innocent activists — ­ all detained on March 9 — are still in custody awaiting military trials without access to lawyers. Their stories are almost identical to ­those of protesters who claim they did nothing wrong, but were illegally detained and often beaten by thugs and soldiers.

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