road to Abbassiya

Army confronting Tahrir protesters with

Army confronting protesters with electric batons

Feeling a growing sense of stagnation, those staging the sit-in decided to march to the defense ministry last night. Before the peaceful marchers made it to their destination, they were met by the Egyptian army, who they faced off for a few hours before protesters eventually made their way back to Tahrir. Following is live video of the stand off: http://bambuser.com/channel/tarekshalaby/broadcast/1841560

Today, protesters returned to the ministry and were met by army officials who were heavily armed as tanks were positioned, with helicopters over head and prepared for battle. Surrounded from all sides the army used tear gas, which several people collapsed from while rocks were thrown at peaceful protesters, by armed thugs! Estimates of approximately 1000 protesters were injured before heading back to Tahrir to resume the sit-in.

Protesters have been debating the next step, it seems the army has provided them with ample reason to escalate their demands!

For more detailed information see: http://bikyamasr.com/wordpress/?p=37180

In solidarity & tahrir.

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Egyptian People Patrols

A lot of hype has been made of the “security” situation in Egypt.  There are many who believe that due to the political vacuum and lack of leadership, chaos has ensued and that armed thugs are running through the streets on camels snatching purses, committing crimes and groping women.  Cairo is a city of over 70 million, therefore criminals don’t really stand a chance, and I have seen many instances when Egyptians witness someone committing a crime, such as purse snatching etc. where people inevitably chase after and apprehend the criminal. What I can say from my experience as a woman is that I have never felt threatened or unsafe walking the streets of Cairo alone (and I do so at most all hours of the day/night). In fact historically, and “despite the absence of 90 percent of it’s police force after the revolution Egypt has one of the lowest crime rates in the world”, said prominent journalist Ibrahim Eissa (perhaps because of their absence!). As evidenced below however, there are very real threats coming from within the police that are well documented and destroy the trust of the people:

Police card, found by civilian security on one of the armed "thugs"attempting to enter Tahrir.

Photo courtesy of Aiyman Shabrawy: http://twitpic.com/photos/ChapZzy

In Tahrir, at all hours, citizen activists search and check the ID’s of everyone who enters the square and have in many cases prevented future violence, from taking place. In another documented incident of thuggery, six arrested ‘thugs’ say they were paid by a businessman to disperse and attack an Alexandria revolutionary sit-in during a police investigation at El-Atareen police station on Tuesday night.* This should make clear that there is major manipulation taking place, which is again being ratcheted up from within the government and echoed by the media as seen in this recent report by CNN titled: Video: Illegal guns flood Egypt’s streets: How cheap weapons are flooding Egypt’s streets in the absence of security, who have a vested interest in creating an atmosphere of fear and mistrust.  Even though it was a recent story done previously (many times) it also shows how the Egyptian people as a whole (especially right after the revolution) were taking matters of safety into their own hands, by arming themselves and working with their neighborhoods and communities to keep them secured.

The most widely targeted are those documenting the revolution.  Foreigners especially, but mainly anyone with a video or camera is a target and I know many, including Egyptians, who have been attacked for documenting in Tahrir. One Egyptian activist said the government induced hysteria is “because the images coming from Tahrir and which were seen all over the world, were the number one weapon used against the government during the revolution.”

Of course not all the criminals and agitators are paid police thugs – some are random people who believe the media and information coming from officials, others are those committing crimes or looking for trouble for whatever reason. These more random rogue individuals however, are easy for almost all revolutionary Egyptians to spot from a mile away.

Since the police have given no reason to date, to be trusted to serve and protect, nor as we have seen are the army capable of doing so…the only thing left for Egyptians to do (as Palestinians have had to do for decades, in the absence of a real government) is govern, serve and protect themselves!  The people of Egypt are demonstrating this model of citizen policing, to the world…

Support Protester Sit In Demands!

I don’t understand the many Egyptians I know who support the revolution but are convinced that no more good will come from protests or the sit-in, and say people need to get back to business as usual. Though they realize there are still major problems and that nothing fundamentally has changed, they fail to provide alternatives required to make the changes that will transform Egypt into a real democracy. Others are unclear about the demands of the protesters, but still choose to criticize the hard work being done by these concerned citizens and ignore the major ongoing injustice taking place (such as the police who murdered protesters during the revolution, who were just released from jail without trial! , military tribunals for 7,000-10,000 civilians, while former corrupt officials/murderers tried in civilian courts!! etc).

Following are clear demands set by those currently sitting in. In my opinion at this time, Egypt has the potential to be a TRUE democracy (actually more so than the USA, which is actually a plutocracy – or rule for and by the rich/corporations) but only if ALL Egyptians get involved within their community – in any way they see fit.

We must support the revolutionaries, and learn from their reasonable demands who are doing their civic duty and part of determining the future of their country. There’s a lot more at stake than meets the eye.

“Late Friday night several demonstrators were collecting signatures from the different political groups, parties and movements taking part in the sit-in on seven points drafted as a proposal for a joint statement of demands and as conditions for the protesters leaving Tahrir and other sit-in sites around the country.

The demands are:

1) The immediate release of all civilians who have been sentenced by military courts and their retrial before civilian courts. Military trials for civilians are to be totally banned.

2) A special court should be established to try those implicated in the killing of protesters during the January 25 Revolution, and all implicated police officers are to be suspended immediately.

3) The sacking of the current minister of the interior and his replacement by a civilian appointee, to be followed by the declaration of a plan and timetable for the full restructuring of the Ministry of Interior, placing it under judicial oversight.

4) The sacking of the current prosecutor general and the appointment of a well-respected figure in his place.

5) Putting Hosni Mubarak and members of his clique on trial for the political crimes committed against Egypt and its people.

6) Revoking the current budget and the drawing up of a new draft budget that courageously acts to respond to the basic demands of the nation’s poor, and putting that draft budget to public debate before its adoption.

7) Clear and open delineation of the prerogatives of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, ensuring its powers do not infringe on the powers and prerogatives of the cabinet. The prime minister should have full powers to appoint aides and members of his cabinet, once that cabinet is purged of the remnants of the old regime.”

http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/15927/Egypt/Politics-/Tahrir-sitin-enters-second-day,-to-go-on-until–de.aspx

Gotta run, on my way to Tahrir! 😉