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Mahmoud Afifi is an Egyptian democracy activist with the April 6th Youth Movement, a group formed in 2008 to support striking workers; afterwards, it transformed into a nationwide opposition network against Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Today, Afifi serves as the Director of the April 6th Youth Movement’s Information Office. He is a lawyer by profession and graduated from Banha University in 2006.

Afifi joined the April 6th Youth Movement in 2009 and founded the group’s chapter in Egypt’s Qalyubia governorate. There he rallied youth to take part in various awareness campaigns and street protests against the government. As part of this strategy, he engaged the poorest segments of the population and strengthened their voice in the political arena. Following his success in Qalyubia, Afifi worked to organize April 6th Youth Movement campaigns at the national level. As the government cracked down on these demonstrations, Afifi was arrested several times and even abandoned in the desert.

Prior to the Egyptian Revolution that unseated President Hosni Mubarak, Afifi coordinated with other organizations encouraging citizens to participate in a January 25, 2011 demonstration in Cairo. On that day, Afifi marched to Tahrir Square with thousands of others demanding Mubarak’s resignation and a free Egypt. The protests intensified and expanded nationwide. Almost three weeks later, on February 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power ending his 30 year reign. 

In November of 1974, I was kidnapped by a unit of the DINA [National Intelligence Directorate], commanded by Osvaldo Romo Mena, who is responsible for at least 250 missing detainees in Chile. He was a torturer. He was even singled out (it was a singular case in human rights history) and named in one of the resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations as a torturer.

[The Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (English: National Intelligence Directorate) or DINA was the Chilean secret police in the government of Augusto Pinochet.] [Osvaldo Romo (1938 – 2007) was an agent of the Chilean Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA) from 1973 to 1990, during the rule of Augusto Pinochet. He was tried and convicted of kidnapping by a Chilean court.]

As part of a huge battalion made up of members of the DINA, he kidnapped me in November of 1974 from the home of my parents, where I lived. I had begun criminal charges against him because I had identified him as a participant in a series of kidnappings. They were kidnappings; they were not arrests because there was no legality, no formality.

During one of those kidnappings he had raped someone. So I had initiated criminal charges against Osvaldo Romo Mena for that rape.

Shortly after he kidnapped me, he drove me to one of the DINA’S torture centers, located in a residential sector of Santiago, where I was [held] for approximately forty hours. The purpose of the kidnapping was to mount a plan, using me against Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, the head of the Chilean Catholic Church.

[Raúl Silva Henríquez, (1907 –1999) was a Chilean Cardinal of the Catholic Church.]

During those forty hours the mistreatment and torture was constant. I was prepared to be executed by a firing squad. For several hours a gun barrel was pointed at my forehead, next to my forehead, etc.
I was in the torture chamber. I was severely beaten and tortured. At some point, the plan that had been designed against Cardinal Silva Henríquez for which they had kidnapped me was changed or was dropped and I was released.

The dictatorship never acknowledged that I had been detained. I was the first of those of us who were in the human rights legal defense team to be kidnapped and tortured. The Catholic Church’s response was very strong and powerful, achieving its goal of freeing me. 

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