March 21, 2013
UPDATE: Sheik Abu Omar in Al Mehdia, North Sinai, holds 8 year old Ahlam hostage
The worries about 8 year old Ahlam held with her parents in the Sinai continue.
Ahlam has not been sold off to gangsters, as was announced by the kidnappers, as ransom money has been collected and it is attempted to get it to the contact persons of those holding Ahlam and parents hostage. It is a difficult task and complex situation, and as always the Eritrean-Swedish journalist Meron Estefanos is masterminding all this with an enormous discipline and compassion working tirelessly behind the scenes.
The ongoing negotiations are for clear reasons not up for publication so as not to endanger the hostages. But what can be said is that the donation site has managed to collect over $15,000 and further money could be collected from Eritreans at home and abroad. That money is now transferred to the contacts and it is eagerly awaited that word comes in that the money has arrived and Ahlam and her parents will be set free.
It must be noted that nothing is guaranteed at the moment, for in numerous other cases the kidnappers have not kept their side of the agreement and handed hostages to other gangs despite ransom having been paid. It remains to be seen if this time the hostages will indeed be freed.
By now it is known who holds Ahlam and parents captive. It is Sheik Abu Omar, living in a huge mansion in Al Mehdia in North Sinai, approximately 10km off the Egyptian-Israeli border. There can be no doubt that the Egyptian army would have no problems in cordoning off the area and arresting Abu Omar thus ending the dramatic hostage drama going on there for more than two years. Yet the army is much more busy with destroying tunnels to Gaza and could not care less for the lives of those hundreds of hostages held by Abu Omar and brutally tortured by his men.
An article I wrote in Daily News Egypt on Ahlam's horrors has found its way into the Sinai desert and is said to have enraged Bedouins who contacted to say they want to help. In how far this is however a true will or not just an attempt to clear the image of Bedouins in Sinai, remains to be seen. Fact is that many Bedouins in the area know exactly where the hostages are held but dare not to interfere, scared this could incite a tribal war.
In the meantime the Egyptian authorities allow the torture and killing to go on and thus become complicit to these crimes against humanity. With every murder that happens there, President Morsi and Prime Minister Qandil run the risk of being indicted at the ICC in The Hague for letting this continue to happen. It is about time to charge them for not undertaking the effort to put an end to these horrible crimes. Perhaps then they will note that brutal torture and the killing of human beings is a crime against humanity. Coming from the Muslim Brotherhood and hailing the compassion of Islam they seem to be strangely non aware of this.
Six managed to flee – and where caught again
Further troubling news has been coming out of Sinai the last days while we wait to hear of Ahlam's release.
Three days ago it became known that six men, who have been held by Abu Sania, a brother of Abu Omar, managed to flee their captors into the desert. Shortly afterwards however they were recaptured and brought back to the torture camp. Someone familiar with such flight attempts going wrong confirms that these men will now be subjected to horrible tortures as punishment. It must even be feared that at least one or two will be tortured to death as a warning to all other hostages not to try an escape. The brutality is beyond imaginable. Hostages, who managed to come free after ransom was paid for them, testified to human rights activists later in Cairo and Tel Aviv that they had wished rather to die than have to endure the torture any longer. The pain inflicted can not be described to the outside world.
Two 18 year old girls die of torture
An even more troubling news came yesterday, as it was made known to Meron Estefanos during her contacts with hostages that two 18 year old Eritrean girls, who where held in Sinai for eleven months, were so severly tortured that they died in the early morning. They had no family contacts who could provide the ransom money, so that after eleven months of captivity the kidnappers gave up and resorted to raping and brutally torturing them. Both did not survive this. The bodies were dumped in the desert yesterday morning and according to another source are still not found.
Have we any idea what pains are inflicted until a young girl dies? Have we any idea?
It is not only the horrible news that these young two girls are dead now. It is the unimaginable pains these girls were subjected to before their bodies gave in and they died that must shock us to the bone. We have no idea, not the slightest, how horrific these pains are, for we did not endure them. They did. And now they are dead.
In the meantime a totally undisturbed President Morsi and an indifferent Prime Minister Qandil take to their beds for another good night's sleep. While 8 year old Ahlam does not know if she will survive the day that comes.
Egypt. 2013. A human catastrophe.