Egypt veteran's fight for justice

Mohammad Darwish is suing the Egyptian government to bring his abusers to justice.

    Gomaa Hassan still suffers from the abuse his
    friend says he received
    As part of a special series of eyewitness accounts marking the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war, Al Jazeera talks to Amin Mohamed Darwish, a former Sinai prisoner.

    He recalls his days in captivity and how they have impacted him and his friend, Gomaa Hassan, also captured during Israel's invasion of the peninsula.

     

    My name is Amin Mohammad Darwish, I am 64-years-old and I was taken as a prisoner of war in 1967.

     

    My friend Gomaa Hassan was captured with me. We also worked for the same firm in Alexandria and I was his supervisor before he retired.

     

    I have always understood Gomaa's mental and physical condition.

     

    He was repeatedly beaten on the head during his capture at the Atlit camp for prisoners of war (POWs) in Israel.

     

    Long history

     

    Gomaa's abuse affected his condition, and he now suffers mental and physical impairments.

     

    Special report

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    We visit each other everyday as we have a long history together.

     

    We are now suing the Egyptian government together because we want to bring those who mistreated us during our captivity to justice.

     

    We also want Israel to pay us compensations.

     

    On June 5, 1967, Israeli air forces raided Sinai. I was on duty near the borders. I walked for three consecutive days to find our weapons either destroyed or left intact without firing a shot.

     

    We were captured and moved to al-Arish North of Sinai being we were transported back to Israel.

     

    I was humiliated - even recounting the details makes me bitter.

     

    They finally handed me over after eight months. This was my end-of-service certificate.

     

    Unemployment

     

    The 1967 war still has its effects on us today.

     

    We bid farewell to socialism and swung into capitalism and the free market economy.

     

    We were better off with socialism and the private sector.

     

    The two men remain good friends but
    are bitter about their mistreatment
     

    Privatisation has increased unemployment. Men sit at cafes all day drinking tea because they have been laid off.

     

    If I go to the market with 50 Egyptian pounds, I come back with nothing. I can't even afford to buy meat everyday. If I do I spend my entire pension in a mere week.

     

    Anwar al-Sadat, Egypt's late president, gave us the opportunities to become rich while he continued to subsidise the poor.

     

    Now Husni Mbarak, the country's current president, has been in power for 26 years and he has not given workers anything.

     

    He said in his first speech as president that he did not have a magic wand that could transform anything.

     

    But tomorrow is another day.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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