The revolution did not take place so that military trials become commonplace. You know that and members of the Higher Council for the Armed Forces know that as well, yet apparently there is a real gap between what you realize and what you believe in on one hand and what you do on the other hand. It is not in anybody’s interest, particularly the military council, to put civilians on military trials.
In short, this is unacceptable and condemnable. Whoever is in favor of the army should advise them to stop this torrent of interrogations and trials for several reasons. First, to save the reputation of the army so that it will not be associated with oppression and injustice during the transitional period in which it ruled Egypt and so that it will not be mentioned as more dictatorial than the regime that preceded it. Second, to protect the revolution that made justice the first of its demands and since there is no justice in trying civilians in military courts which are devoid of the basic legal guarantees stipulated in civil laws and international charters.
I am not the one who is talking about lack of guarantees as far as trying civilians in military courts is concerned. It was, in fact, members of the military council themselves who mentioned that when asked why cases like killing peaceful protestors are not referred to military courts. Then they talked about international charters that do not recognize anything other than verdicts issued by civil courts and about the legal rights of the defendants only guaranteed by civil courts.
The army itself realizes that its courts do not offer the guarantees that should be given to civilians since it is a kind of court that caters to the military and that is why applying it to politics and civilians was a grave mistake that was previously committed by the former regime and was amongst the reasons that led to the January 25 Revolution. It is extremely unfortunate to see military trials double after the fall of the corrupt regime and to see that they have become the norm to deal with a variety of issues ranging from thuggery and theft to press statements that irk the military council.
The elite committed a mistake when it overlooked hundreds of military verdicts on the grounds that they were issued against thugs who terrorized the people whereas a civil court could have issued similarly deterrent verdicts. On the other hand, if terrorizing the people and stealing their property is thuggery, then killing peaceful protestors and attacking them with camels in Tahrir Square is an even higher degree of thuggery. The problem is that there is some kind of separation between street thugs and regime thugs. They are both thugs and the crimes of street thugs appear trivial when compared to those of regime thugs. Nevertheless, the poor are treated with extreme firmness while the rich are treated with mercy and are given a wide range of guarantees to the extent that guards almost waved a military salute at them even though they are criminals on their way from the dock to prison.
Human rights cannot be categorized and do not distinguish between rich and poor… yet people are still not fully aware of this!
First published in al-Shorouk newspaper on August 15, 2011 and translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid