Medea Benjamin: 'Egyptian Police Fractured My Arm, Dislocated My Shoulder, Tore the Ligaments'
Photo Credit: Twitter.com/Screenshot/@medeabenjamin
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U.S. peace activist Medea Benjamin was detained Monday at Cairo’s airport by Egyptian police without explanation. She says she was questioned, held overnight in an airport prison cell and then violently handcuffed by Egyptian officials, who dislocated her shoulder and broke her arm. She was then put on a plane and deported to Turkey, where she is now seeking medical treatment. We speak to her by telephone from the airport medical facility. Benjamin had intended to meet up with international delegates before traveling to Gaza for a women’s conference.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
Amy Goodman : We turn now to U.S. peace activist Medea Benjamin, who was just detained at Cairo’s airport by Egyptian police. She was in Cairo to meet up with an international delegation before traveling to Gaza for a women’s conference, but she said she was detained upon arrival and held overnight before being deported to Turkey, where she’s now seeking medical treatment. Medea Benjamin joins us on the phone from Turkey.
Medea, how are you?
Medea Benjamin : Well, I’m in a lot of pain. I’ve gotten two shots of painkiller, but it’s not enough. They fractured my arm, dislocated my shoulder, tore the ligaments. They jumped on top of me. And this was all never telling me what was the problem. And so, it was a very brutal attack, and I’m in a lot of pain.
AG: Explain what happened. You arrived at Cairo’s airport, and you were attacked there?
MB: No, I arrived at the airport. When I gave in my passport, I was taken aside, brought into a separate room, where I was held for seven hours without anybody ever telling me what was wrong. Then I was put into a jail cell in the airport, held overnight. And in the morning, five very scary-looking men came in and wanted to take me away. And I said, "The embassy is coming. The embassy is coming." They were supposed to have arrived. Instead, they dragged me out, tackled me to the ground, jumped on me, handcuffed my wrists so tight that they started bleeding, and then dislocated my shoulder, and then kept me like that, grabbing my arm. The whole way, I was shouting through the airport, screaming in pain. Then the — I demanded to get medical attention. The Egyptian doctors came and said, "This woman cannot travel. She’s in too much pain. She needs to go to the hospital." The Egyptian security refused to take me to a hospital and threw me on the plane. Thank God there was an orthopedic surgeon on the plane who gave me another shot and put the arm back in its shoulder. But they were so brutal, and, as I said, Amy, never saying why.
AG: Did the U.S. embassy representative ever come to see you at the airport?
MB: No. Some of the delegates, including Ann Wright, who had already arrived for the Gaza delegation, had been calling the embassy non-stop. The CodePink people in D.C. were calling the embassy non-stop. They were always saying, "They’re supposed to show up. They’re supposed to show up." They never showed up. I was on the tarmac. The Turkish airline was forced to take me, but we delayed an hour while they were debating what to do. There were about 20 men there. And the embassy never showed up the entire time.
AG: And how long were you held, that the U.S. embassy, that’s supposed to protect U.S. citizens, never showed up?