Monday, December 19, 2011

Half an hour with my son Khaled- Alaa Abd El Fatah

Standing in the coptic hospital and my insistence on an accurate autopsy of the bodies of the Maspero martyrs was the reason behind my name coming up in the Military Police investigation.


With the falling of more martyrs in Tahrir Square, we snatched a victory in the Maspero case, but it is a victory with the taste of Ganzoury... that is why I didn't rejoice when my morale was completely devastated, but with the arrival of the first news reassuring me about Khaled...

The prison, and its walls dissipated and I slept with some peace of mind.

I understand why I was imprisoned by the state prosecution, because it is working in the same way after the revolution as before the revolution...Tantawi and SCAF are my enemies... but why did a normal judge imprison me?

Fate intervened to connect my imprisonment with the normal judiciary system: I was arrested in 2006 with 50 of my friends from "Kefaya" movement, and hundreds of the Muslim Brotherhood, because of participating in the uprising against Mubarak (and his regime)'s judges.We staged a sit-in for the independence of the judiciary system, and the judiciary supervision over the elections, and so the State Security prosecution imprisoned us for a month and a half.

And now, in the time of the revolution, the Military Prosecution imprisoned me; a punishment for my insistence  for my case to be shown before a normal judge, and maybe also a punishment for my role in the Maspero Massacre, which was connected to the normal judiciary system as well. Standing in the Coptic hospital was to  ensure a serious investigation from the General Prosecution, and our insistence on an accurate autopsy by the coroner, this was the reason behind my name appearing in the Military Police and Intelligence investigation.

With the falling of more martyrs in Tahrir Square, we snatched a victory in the Maspero case, but it is a victory with the taste of Ganzoury, for the case was transferred to a civil court, but instead of appearing before a judge for independent investigation, I found myself before the Supreme State Security prosecution.

During the time of the ousted (Mubarak), we refused to appear before the State Security Prosecution because it is an exceptional court, but in the time of Ganzoury, we sufficed with it because a civil exception is better than Military one. Yet, because it was a Ganzoury (tarnished) victory, I didn't rejoice. Instead, I came back from the prosecution in a devastated mental state, and one of the hardest weeks in prison passed by. Before, it was a struggle against Military trying, and the struggle inspires patience and eases holding up, but what was the meaning of my imprisonment after transferring the case? what was the point of holding up?

The lawyers reassured me that the appeal of the decision of the temporary imprisonment will be before a normal judge; at last I will appear before a normal judge, for whom we bore the dragging and arrests to uphld his high status, and to preserve his dignity, power and independence.

I was only concerned, at the time, with coming out to be present at the birth of my first son, Khaled. The doctor advised us with an early Cesarean delivery to preserve Manal's health, and with every continuation of imprisonment, we risked postponing the delivery in the hope that we are victorious and I would be present for it.

Khaled showed his solidarity with us; he protested coming out (to the world) even though the normal nine months passed. We waited for our last hope: the appeal before a normal judge. We had high hopes, for there was no reason behind my imprisonment; I am innocent until proven guilty, and returning from my travels to appear before the prosecution proves that I wasn't escaping. In addition, the charges against me was clearly fabricated,  the investigation was not serious, the false witnesses has conflicting testimonies, and we submitted the evidence and asked for hearing the witnesses' accounts to prove that I wasn't at the scene of the events of the Maspero Massacre to begin with. After all, truth is explicit (unequivocal).

Khaled played his part and waited for the judge. The lawyers pleased the case and ended their pleas with Manal appearing before the judge, asking for my release to attend the birth, but the judge looked at her with a peculiar glance. When I saw that glance, I knew he would not do me justice.

My morale collapsed completely, and I sunk into a state of panic and worry over Khaled and his mother. For the first time, I felt sorry for myself and my imprisonment seemed useless; my heart and mind couldn't bear this uselessness. I understand why the State Security Prosecution imprisoned me.

But why did the judge imprison me? What is the this animosity between us? What is to become of me now? Will I be one of the thousands of miserable creatures in Tora prison-prosecution? We wait for months-sometimes years- for a verdict that never comes, by the hands of judges who are told by the law that we are innocent until proven guilty, and who are told by our constitution that our freedom and rights can't be confined except through a judicial verdict. Yet, they don't listen. So, we continue being imprisoned and our cases never end, and the world forgets us behind bars. Everyone in prison is miserable and pale, even the cats are pale; their movement is slow, and their eyes are broken and extinguished.

I slept convinced  that was my fate; I have at least 6 months before the case would be transferred to trial, and months of postponement before acquittal. How will I hold up?


Then came Khaled! in the afternoon of the following day. I received a message reassuring me of his safety and Manal's health, and a picture. It was love at first site, love at first picture. The prison dissipated with its walls and cats, everything dissipated except my love for Khaled, and my happiness for his arrival. I slept with some peace of mind.

In this third day, Khaled came to visit me. It was a surprise. I expected that the doctor would not permit visitation before a week had passed at least. Khaled visited me for half an hour. I held him in my hands for ten minutes.

Oh God, how could he be that beautiful? Love from first touch! In half an hour, he gave me enough happiness to fill the prison for a whole week. In half an hour, I gave him love I wished it would surround him for an entire week. In half an hour, the universe changed from around me. I understand why my imprisonment continues: they wanted to deprive me from this joy. I understand why I will withstand it now: my imprisonment will not prevent my love, my happiness persists, to hold Khaled for minutes is my struggle.

I never resisted on my own: I am  always joined by others. That is why I didn't rejoice Khaled along, I was overwhelmed with the happiness of others. I got used to receiving tweets in the form of telegraphs during my imprisonment: felicitations for the Barium feast and my birthday. I received congratulations for the return of the revolutionaries to the square, but Khaled's was something completely different! A great amount of telegraphs, mostly from people I don't know or maybe haven't been honored to meet them. They wrote to express their happiness  for the arrival of Khaled and their love for him. They wrote telling me about themselves; their names, their family names, their addressed, their occupations, their cities and they wrote that Khaled has aunts and uncles in hundreds of homes all over Egypt.

Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to keep the telegraphs. I read them once,and then they disappear. I will not be able to recite the names of every aunt and uncle for Khaled, but their love arrived. Half an our inspired happiness I live off it for a week. The mere news of his arrival inspires happiness in people who don't know us, so that they are urged to send telegraphs to the imprisoned father.

Half an hour in which I did nothing but look at him. What about half an hour of changing him, or half an hour of feeding him, or half an hour of playing with him? What about half an hour of him telling me about his school? or half an hour of discussing his dreams? half an hour of arguing about him going to protest? Half an hour of him giving a passionate speech about the revolution and how it will free us all?about living, freedom, dignity and justice? Half an hour of pride of my son being a brave responsible man who cares for a country before being old enough to care for himself?

What is the amount of happiness in this half an hour?The same as the last half an hour a father spent with his martyred son?

- Prison deprives me from Khaled except for half an hour. I withstand it because we will spend the rest of our destined halves of hours together. How does the father of the martyr withstand it?

The martyr Khaled (khaled means eternal) (Saeed) is eternal within our mind, eternal within our minds, eternal within history, and eternal in heaven. But does his immortality bring happiness to his father? His heart will explode with love for what is left of life's halves of hours. Will the emptiness within his heart be filled by embracing history? I wait for the acquittal and I withstand. What does the father of martyr wait for? To follow the immortal into heaven?

We thought the judge would do me justice. We chanted in 2006, "Judges, Judges, deliver us from tyrants".So, the normal judge imprisoned me to deprive me of Khaled. The father of a martyr thought the soldier would do him justice, and in February we chanted "people and army one hand". So, the army drove over us to deprive us of the immortal.

Looking for the reasons behind my imprisonment is useless. My imprisonment won't bring back their state. Similarly, the falling of the martyrs is useless; they might have killed martyrs at first to stop the revolution, but why did they continue to kill after it was proven time and time again that the revolution will continue? Yet, the killing increases whenever they are close to defeat. I remember well the appearance of snipers at the time of the "Camel battle". They showed up late after it was clear that the square was holding up. It was killing for killing's sake, with no strategic goal: killing to deprive us of the immortal. Useless. Killing us will not bring their state back.

We have to be careful: they don't kill us to bring back their state; they kill us because killing and imprisonment is the natural behavior in their state. Yes, natural behavior, we are the ones who kid ourselves. We weren't only let down by their state's police, but weren't they joined by the deans of their colleges in running over our children? Weren't we let down by their warehouses and its ovens and gas tanks?Weren't we let down by their ferries and ports? Weren't we let down by its wheel of production, which doesn't skimp on the manager and councillor with millions--even when it is broken, and deprives the worker and the clerk of its crumbs as it spins?

Weren't we let down by its economy which shuts down its fabric factories even though peasants' are stuffed with cotton, and instead the manure factories work even though the water is overflowing with poisons? Weren't we let down by its soccer clubs which leaves its audience to be the prey of security if they cheer loudly, and interferes to save its players from accountability even if they hold unarmed people at gun point? We were let down and are let down by all of its organizations, and all its authorities and leading administrator in it, and tomorrow we will be let down by its parliament and president.

I couldn't imagine that my heart had the type of love that erupted with Khaled's birth. How can it withhold the sadness within the father of the immortal's heart? Oh God, how could it be that harsh? to bury your son and not the other way round, could their be any more injustice? Could their be any more imbalance? We kid ourselves and assume that it was exceptional even and this state could be rectified, but all the indicators point that it was a normal event and there is no hope but through the fall of this state.

Yes, down with their state. We fear facing the truth, we fear for the country the fall of the state, if the square causes the fall of the state, what remains for us? Egypt is not the square.

Indeed, Egypt is not the square, but we didn't understand the square. What do we do in the square? We meet, eat, sleep, discuss, pray, chant, sing, exert effort and imagination to fulfill our needs, we cheer and rejoice in weddings, mourn and cry in funerals, we express out thought, dreams and identities, we sometimes argue, be confused and flustered seeking the future, and we spend each day not knowing what the future holds.

Isn't that what we do outside the square? Nothing exceptional in the square except our togetherness. Outside the square we imaging that we will rejoice in weddings because we know the bride and groom, in the square we rejoice weddings of strangers and celebrate it. Outside the square, we mourn in a funeral because we know the deceased, in the square we mourn strangers and pray for them.

Nothing new in the square except we surround ourselves with the love of strangers, but loving strangers is not a monopoly of the square: hundreds sent me telegraphs for loving Khaled outside the square, some wrote about themselves that they were of the "couch" party. Millions mourned the martyr in every house in Egypt.

We celebrate a wedding because it's a marriage. We mourn a funeral because it's a death. We love a newborn because he's human, and he's Egyptian. Our hearts break for the martyr because he's human and he's Egyptian. We go to the square because we love life outside of it, and to explore our love for the life of a resistance. We run towards bullets because we love life, and we enter prison because we love freedom.

The country is what we love and what we live, what we rejoice and what we mourn. If the state falls, not only will the square survive, but the love of a stranger and everything that pushed us to the square and everything we learned in it, will also remain.

Love is eternal, sadness is eternal, the square is eternal, the martyr is eternal, and the country is eternal, as for their state, it only lasts for an hour, just an hour.

Signed: Abou khaled (Khaled's father)
Friday Morning 9/12/2011
Cell 1/6
Ward 4
Tora Prison-Investigation

Original article in Arabic: http://www.shorouknews.com/columns/view.aspx?cdate=19122011&id=c76f74ce-2e88-458c-8787-ce454b193f69

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