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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cairo: The ongoing clashes in Mohamed Mahmoud causing more injuries

On Monday 19 November 2012 Egyptian activists and the representatives of several political parties and organizations have held the marches to commemorate the victims of the last year’s deadly clashes at Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir which took more than 45 lives and cause hundreds of injuries, after Egyptian Security Forces tried to violently disperse the peaceful sit-in in Tahrir Square.

The marches to commemorate the victims started after midday. The demonstrators have been chanting for justice and responsibility, as those responsible for the attacks still didn’t answer for their actions. There were also chants against SCAF and retired head of SCAF Mohamed Hussein Tantawy. Protesters have been also chanting against Muslim Brotherhood accusing them of betrayal, when they were silent during the clashes and were even cooperating with military on the eve of the parliamentary elections.

The roads leading to the building of Ministry of Interior were blocked and secured by CSF, the concrete blocks have been erected in the streets leading to the building, including Mohamed Mahmoud Street. Suddenly the clashes erupted between the protesters who were trying to get closer to the MOI building, and the security forces. Both sides were throwing the stones; the police and security have been using the tear gas and bird shots to disperse the crowds. Some of the protesters have been throwing Molotov cocktails.

As the clashes still continue in Tahrir and Mohamed Mahmoud, the numbers of wounded are increasing, some of them are reportedly in very difficult conditions.

I would like to share here in my blog two articles published today in Ahram Online.

The first one is giving some of the latest updates of the clashes, while the second article reports about the official statement of Egypt’s government regarding the Cairo clashes.

Here is the link for the original article.

Member of April 6 Youth Movement critically injured, goes into coma, during clashes near interior ministry in central Cairo; anger grows at government failure to reform security forces

Ahram Online , Wednesday 21 Nov 2012

Ongoing clashes near the Ministry of Interior in central Cairo have left one person critically injured and scores transferred to the hospitals, stirring anger at governmental reluctance to restructure the police and security forces.

The critically injured protester has been named as Gaber Salah, known as Jica, a member of the April 6 Youth Movement.

Clashes between police and protesters began on Monday afternoon, during a demonstration commemorating the Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes of last year which left 47 dead and thousands injured.

Tear gas used during the clashes
The April 6 Youth Movement said initially that Salah died after suffering severe "gunshot" wounds to the head and neck. The movement blamed "his death" on continuing police violence. The activist, according to statement by the health ministry is still alive however, yet in a coma. Injuries have resulted from bird shots.

"Revolutionaries went to the streets to commemorate their martyrs but they became martyrs themselves," the group stated.

Many have blamed the escalating violence on Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and President Mohamed Morsi.

The statement further reminded Egyptians of President Morsi's unmet promises, including the restructuring of the interior ministry and putting former regime figures on trial for the killing of activists.

Meanwhile, several parties and political groups have issued statements condemning the violence and expressing their condolences on the death of Salah.

"The use by police of live ammunition and rubber bullets targeting vulnerable parts of the body is a crime," the Constitution Party said late Tuesday. The lack of accountability for previous killings was the reason behind the current infringements, it added.

The Adl Party and the Egyptian Current Party also blamed on the continuing violence on the lack of police and security force accountability for previous killings.

Political figure Amr Hamzawy condemned the violence saying it was the police's responsibility to control the clashes without infringing human rights.

Protesters in Cairo clash with the CSF
Meanwhile, Tahrir Doctors have condemned the lack of ambulances at the scene, with only a few ambulances located near Qasr El-Dubara church in a street nearby.

The 'Free the Revolution's Prisoners' group has condemned the torture of those detained during the clashes on Monday and Tuesday. Two of the arrested, named Taysir Abdel-Qader and Mohamed Atef, suffered particularly bad torture, according to the group. Ten protesters remain in custody, the group added, and they will be interrogated by the prosecution on Wednesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, have criticised demonstrators and blamed them for starting the violence.

Brotherhood Secretary-General Mahmoud Hussein told the Al-Shorouk news website that the violence was "organised chaos." He said he rejected violent self-expression and stressed that protests should be peaceful.

Similarly, Freedom and Justice Party Secretary General in Cairo Mohamed El-Beltagy said the clashes were "planned organised chaos" in a Facebook message.

The Muslim Brotherhood was widely condemned for abandoning protesters and speaking against them during the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes last year. In the commemoration protests which started Monday, protesters hung a banner at the entrance of Mohamed Mahmoud Street reading "Muslim Brotherhood members not allowed here."

Clashes lasted all through Tuesday night in Mohamed Mahmoud Street and nearby Qasr El-Aini Street, which remained closed to traffic on Wednesday morning. Police and protesters exchanged stones. Police used tear gas and (reportedly) rubber bullets, while protesters threw Molotov cocktails.

Here is the article regarding the official reaction of Egyptian government. The original article could be found here.

Egypt PM breaks cabinet silence on Mohamed Mahmoud violent clashes

Ahram Online, Wednesday 21 Nov 2012

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil says 'all necessary steps' will be taken to stop 'attacks on public, private property' while saying govt 'respects right to peaceful protest'

Hisham Kandeel, Egypt's Prime Minister
After three days of clashes on Cairo's Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil on Wednesday broke his silence on the issue, stating on his official Facebook page: "We respect different opinions and different political efforts."
Qandil went on to stress that the government would "use the law" in dealing with "protesters' violent activities."

"The government will take all necessary steps to deal with attacks on public and private property," he said.

He also stressed that the government would continue to guarantee freedom of expression and the right to stage peaceful protests.

The Egyptian PM went on to urge the media to report on current events "objectively" and abide by journalistic ethics.

"The people must know that these Molotov cocktails are being used to burn our country," he said. "Revolutionary demands can only be achieved by work and production and nothing else."

Since Monday, clashes between police and protestors have been ongoing on Mohamed Mahmoud and Qasr El-Aini streets, adjacent to Cairo's Tahrir Square. According to the latest health ministry figures, over 43 protesters have been injured, although reports from the field suggest the number may be higher.

Fighting erupted during a demonstration commemorating the victims of last year's five-day street battle with police in the same area, which left 47 dead and hundreds injured.