Saturday, March 29, 2014

Code Pink activist says Egypt police assaulted her at airport

New York Times

US Activist Says Egyptian Police Assaulted Her

March 4, 2014

David D. Kirkpatrick

CAIRO — Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of the American protest group Code Pink, which opposes United States military actions, said Tuesday that she had been detained in the Cairo airport and assaulted by the Egyptian police while trying to travel to Gaza for a meeting opposing Israeli incursions and restrictions there.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry said that Ms. Benjamin had been stopped at the airport because the Gaza border crossing was closed, and that she had then physically resisted the airport security agents. “She arrived in Cairo and insisted on going to Gaza,” said the spokesman, Badr Abdelatty. “She was prevented because the border crossing is closed.”

Ms. Benjamin, an American, was held for several hours with other women in an airport room that was full of bunk beds. She used a mobile device to send messages and pictures over Twitter. 

“Stuck in cold jail cell at Cairo airport gives new meaning to term ‘jetlag,'” she tweeted around 8 a.m. Tuesday. Then, around 11 a.m., she tweeted: “Help. They broke my arm. Egypt police.”

Mr. Abdelatty said Ms. Benjamin had refused to board a flight back to the United States and had struggled as she was forcibly escorted to another flight, to Istanbul.

In a news release sent after she landed, Ms. Benjamin said she had been “brutally assaulted.”

“When the authorities came into the cell to deport me, two men threw me to the ground, stomped on my back, pulled my shoulder out of its socket and handcuffed me so that my injured arm was twisted around and my wrists began to bleed,” she said. “I was then forced to sit between the two men who attacked me on the plane ride from Cairo to Istanbul, and I was (and still am) in terrible pain the whole time.”

Ms. Benjamin helped found Code Pink to oppose the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. The group, which is composed mainly of women, has increasingly focused its attention-grabbing protests on other causes like health care, gun control and the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

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