Egypt’s vanishing youth

Via The New York Times:

Esraa el-Taweel, 23, went out to dinner with friends on June 1 and has not been seen since. Ms. Taweel, a student and photojournalist who was shot in the spine last year while covering protests on the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, is said to have difficulty walking. Her family believes she was forcibly “disappeared” along with two young friends, Sohaib Mohamed and Amr Mohamed.

For days now, the hashtag #forceddisappearance has spread across Egyptian social media, as family and friends look for missing loved ones, mostly young people from across the political spectrum. Some are members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and others are affiliated with the secular April 6 youth movement, while still others are not attached to any movement or party. All are victims of a war on young people, in a country where more than half the population is under 25.

According to the prisoners’ rights group Freedom for the Brave, 163 people have been forcibly disappeared in Egypt since April. The organization says 64 of the disappeared have been returned to their families, but that at least two have been found dead, including Islam Ateeto, a 23-year-old student, whose broken and bullet-riddled body was released to his mother two days after he was abducted,according to authorities at Ain Shams University in Cairo, from the campus on May 19. And a Sinai-based pro-Brotherhood activist, Sabry al-Ghoul, is reported to have died in military custody on June 2 after a major security sweep of the region (the Ministry of Interior has not confirmed the report).

“Have we become Argentina of the junta days, where they can abduct you and disappear you just like that?” my father asked me. I had just returned to Egypt from a book tour during which I was constantly asked, “Are you safe in Egypt?” My answer was always, “Nobody is safe in Egypt, but I am safer.”