World Bulletin/News Desk
Amr Metwali, a 20-year-old engineering student, was one of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators who had camped out for weeks in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi in eastern Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
He was there when security forces moved in to violently disperse the camp in the early hours of August 14. The bloody dispersal that followed left hundreds of Metwali's fellow protesters dead and thousands injured.
And ever since, Metwali himself has remained missing.
"The whole family is living a nightmare – especially his mother, who knows nothing of her son's fate," Metwali's father, Ibrahim, told Anadolu Agency.
"We tried to check up on him, but his phone was closed; we haven't heard anything from him ever since," the aggrieved father said.
Metwali is hardly the only pro-Morsi demonstrator to remain missing more than five weeks after the two protest camps were crushed by security forces.
So far, the authorities have failed to provide any official count of those who went missing in the wake of the bloody crackdown.
A member of the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy, a group of pro-Morsi Islamist figures and movements, attributes this to the fact that the government itself is the "prime suspect" in the "Rabaa massacre."
"Missing persons were either killed and their bodies could not be found," said the alliance member, speaking on condition of anonymity, "or detained, and their place of detention remains unknown."
Committees drawn up by the alliance have documented the disappearance of at least 341 people since the two sit-in dispersals in Rabaa and Giza's Nahda Square.
"Egypt has never seen so many people disappeared before," said Ahmed Mefreh, head of local NGO Karama for Human Rights. "This is one of the most difficult cases for human rights activists."
Mefreh described the situation of the relatives of missing persons as "very difficult," especially given the fact that the government – which may itself be culpable for the disappearances – knows it will land in hot water if it opens investigations into the case.
Nevertheless, he held both the army and Interior Ministry responsible for locating missing Morsi supporters.
The issue has spurred several online activists to join the search by launching a website aimed at helping the relatives of the missing learn the fate of their loved ones.
The website, mafkoden.com ("missing" in Arabic), was launched on August 16, two days after the sit-in dispersals.
Rights activist Mohamed Abul Azm says websites like this, along with media coverage of the issue, serve to put pressure on the authorities to reveal details of missing people's fate.
"There will never be justice until the authorities bring those responsible for the deaths to account," Abul Azm said.
International law, he added, ensures the right of families to know the fate of missing relatives. Abul Azm urged all parties involved to work towards providing information about the missing.
Under Egyptian law, missing persons are presumed dead four years after their disappearance. But Abul Azm said this rule could not be applied in this case, since the government had failed to provide an official count of the missing.
One Interior Ministry official had earlier said that the nation's police stations had not received any complaints regarding the disappearance of Morsi supporters from either sit-in.
An official from Egypt's Forensic Medicine Authority, meanwhile, which is affiliated to the Justice Ministry, put the total number of deaths from the two dispersals at 766, in addition to almost 4,000 injuries.Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2013, 16:24