Egypt: Attacks by Security Forces in Sarando

Egypt: Attacks by Security Forces in Sarando

Human Rights Watch is deeply disturbed by credible reports that since the early hours of March 4, 2005, Egyptian security forces have laid siege to the village of Sarando in the Baharriya Governorate and the surrounding lands. Villagers report that security forces have terrorized inhabitants with ongoing night-time raids, arbitrary arrests including holding women and young children in illegal places of detention, beatings and humiliation, and confinement to their homes. They also report that the security forces have failed to protect them from armed attacks by thugs in the employ of a local landowner. One woman is known to have died following a beating by security forces.

According to accounts by villagers and their lawyers as well as information collected by Egyptian human rights organizations, the siege of Sarando and its surrounding lands is linked to an ongoing dispute between the family of landowner Salah Nawar and local villagers. Villagers and their lawyers maintain that they have a legal right to remain on land many have farmed for generations. But that the Nawar family has used intimidation and fraud to attempt to force villagers farming the disputed lands to sign documents relinquishing that right. In fact, the current attacks occurred as lawyers prepared to obtain copies of land ownership documents that they say would validate the villagers' claims to the land in question. The head of the Damanhour Center for Police Investigations has reportedly used arbitrary detention, false criminal charges, and intimidation to assist the Nawar family in its efforts to force villagers from the disputed lands. Human rights activists from the Land Center for Human Rights and the Rural Studies Center, who have been following the case since January 2005, estimate that up to ten thousand villagers in Sarando and its hamlets may be affected by the dispute.

To read the Full Text, please go to:
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/03/17/egypt10334.htm