As Peace Activist Medea Benjamin was Brutalized by Egyptian Police, Her Call for Help Ignored by U.S. Embassy

Posted April 16, 2014

MP3 Interview with Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink Women for Peace, conducted by Scott Harris

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On March 3, Medea Benjamin, a U.S. peace activist and co-founder of the group, Code Pink Women for Peace, flew to Egypt where she was to join a delegation of women traveling to Gaza for International Women's Day. However, when she arrived at Cairo airport, she was detained without explanation. After seven hours of isolation, she was placed in a jail cell and held overnight. Although Medea, through her friends had contacted the U.S. embassy in Cairo for assistance, no one from the embassy ever arrived. In the morning, five men dragged Medea out of her cell, tackling and handcuffing her, which resulted in a dislocated shoulder, a torn ligament and fractured arm. Soon after Benjamin was placed on a plane for deportation to Turkey where she later received medical treatment for her injuries.

The original purpose of Medea’s trip to Egypt was to cross the border into Gaza with 100 other women solidarity activists to witness the hardships facing the 1.7 million residents there, deliver humanitarian aid, and call for peace and justice for Palestinians. But her treatment at the hands of Egyptian police has focused new attention on the repressive actions of Egypt’s military government. Since overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the military has killed over 1,000 people and jailed over 16,000, and is clearly targeting anyone they view as opponents of the regime. On March 24, an Egyptian court sentenced 529 supporters of former President Morsi to death for the killing of a single police officer, a verdict which provoked condemnation from human rights groups.

Despite the ongoing repression, on Jan. 15, the U.S. Congress restored more than $1.5 billion in military and economic aid to Egypt, aid which had largely been frozen after the military overthrew the Morsi government. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Medea Benjamin, who talks about her detention and brutalization in Egypt and the current status of U.S. relations with Egypt’s military government.

Benjamin is the recent recipient of the Gandhi Peace Award from the group Promoting Enduring Peace. For more information on the human rights situation in Egypt and Code Pink actions, visit codepink.org.

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