The Southern Miss Muslim Student Association held a forum on Egypt Wednesday March 16 in Joseph Greene Hall to highlight human rights abuses during Human Rights Week.
The event highlighted human rights abuses by the Egyptian military led government that assumed power after deposing the nation’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi.
The speakers for the event came to the stage after a screening of this video from the 2013 Global Peace and Unity Conference in which an Egyptian girl conveyed the events of the Rabia Massacre.
According to Amnesty International, Egyptian security forces killed at least 550 people during the massacre.
The two speakers were a former teacher at East Washington University and Egyptian citizen, Dorreya Khattab, and Southern Miss Egyptian computer science professor, Dia Ali.
Khattab explained two videos showing examples of human rights abuses and lives lost to the ongoing conflict in Egypt.
One video showed a 19-year-old girl who was chained to her bed the day after giving birth because police accused her of participating in an anti-regime protest. A second video showed an Egyptian boy whose mother was killed during a demonstration begging her to wake up.
Khattab’s voice strained when she said the boy in the video is, not the only one, that there are hundreds of other children who have been orphaned by the security force’s violence against demonstrators.
Amnesty International said in a statement to the UN Human Rights Council that at least 1,400 people were killed in “political violence” from July 3 of 2013 to February of 2014.
Khattab said that thanks to technology like Facebook we are able to know the details of some of the human rights abuses going on in Egypt and it was international media attention and outrage that forced the police to release the 19-year-old girl mentioned earlier.
Military forces in Egypt have a history of being in control and Khattab said they still have all the power, which allows them to act in autonomy.
“They have the army, they have the police force, they have the courts and they have the media,” Khattab said.
Khattab said the human rights abuses would continue in Egypt and other areas around the world if we allow it. Khattab said the events in Rabia will never be forgotten and that those responsible will be brought to justice.
Ali said he is part of Egypt’s “lost generation” in he they grew up under military rule, had “one year of hope later in life” (when there was a democratically elected president) and the military is in power again.
“Now we are back,” Ali said. “I don’t see any hope.”
The two speakers are actually married and Ali said they previously had plans to return to Egypt after getting their degrees. However, Ali said he could not imagine raising his children in Egypt under the current circumstances and he would not be able to speak freely in Egypt without fear of being punished.
USM Polymer Science Research Faculty member Mohammad Hassan said he is confident that Egypt’s military rulers will go the way of other dictators and reference Hitler and Mussolini.
Hassan said when Egyptians are celebrating the end of military rule, “if you choose to be silent right now, please maintain your silence.”
Southern Miss Muslim Student Organization Secretary Wisam Buti said the purposes of the group organize events like this “to show everybody human rights violations around the world.” Buti said this event focused on Egypt because the topic hits home for some of those in the organization.