Unity of Tahrir has dissolved as 'new Egypt' proves elusive MICHAEL JANSEN, IRISH TIMES, 250112.

Unity of Tahrir has dissolved as 'new Egypt' proves elusive

MICHAEL JANSEN

A YEAR ago, tens of thousands of Egyptians responded to a call by internet activists to protest against police brutality by taking to the streets and squares of their country and launching an uprising that toppled 30-year Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

Demonstrators, who numbered 50,000 in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square alone, were attacked by armed police and plain-clothes interior ministry “thugs” seeking to clear the square. But the protesters remained and fought off constant assaults for 18 days until the armed forces high command sided with the protesters and staged a coup against Mubarak.

The generals pledged to speed up the transition to multiparty democracy and hand over to a civilian authority within six months. This was not honoured.

Today the generals are set to commemorate the dramatic popular uprising that caught the imagination of people around the world. But activists who caused the uprising are calling for the ousting of the military council, which continues to wield power even though it has overseen the dissolution of the old people’s assembly and the election of a new parliament, which was inaugurated on Monday.

Unfortunately, the unity of purpose that powered the uprising quickly dissipated. More than 50 revolutionary movements, factions, alliances and parties are behind today’s demonstrations.

However, the majority of Egyptians, weary of constant protests, strikes and disruptions, simply seek a quiet life. They have repudiated activists seeking protracted revolution by voting for constitutional amendments proposed by the generals and have given Muslim fundamentalist parties, prepared to collude with the military, overwhelming control of the people’s assembly.

In the run-up to today’s protests, the revolutionaries were squabbling over arrangements and objectives.

Amnesty: Mideast protests, repression to continue

Amnesty: Mideast protests, repression to continue
Amnesty International predicts another year of protests and government repression in the Middle East if the region's rulers do not ensure democratic and human rights for their people
AP , Sunday 8 Jan 2012
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Egyptian soldiers attack protesters in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
In a report to be released Monday on the 2011 Arab uprisings, the London-based Amnesty International organisation detailed the harsh measures governments across the region used to suppress protests calling for democratic reforms and greater freedoms. It also noted that activists across the region have refused to accept bogus promises and appear unlikely to give up their demands.

"They have shown that they will not be fooled by reforms that make little difference to the way they are treated by the police and security forces," said Philip Luther, the group's interim director for the Middle East and North Africa. "They want concrete changes to the way they are governed and for those responsible for past crimes to be held to account."

The 80-page report said that Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, where popular uprisings succeeded in toppling longtime dictators, still need to ensure that democratic gains are solidified so that past abuses are not repeated.

It called on Egypt's military rulers, who took control of the country after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February, to respect the right of protesters to express their views peacefully. It said Tunisia should ensure that its new constitution, to be drafted in 2012, protects human rights. And it called on Libya to make sure the militias who fought to end Muammar Gaddafi's regime don't continue its repressive practices.

"Muslims and Christians are one hand" : Tahrir Square celebrates New Year’s Eve: Ahramonline - 010112

"Muslims and Christians are one hand" : Tahrir Square celebrates New Year’s Eve

The iconic Square was lit up with candles and fireworks to end the year of the January 25 revolution; tens of thousands of Egyptians affirmed hope and unity, as well as resilience to face the struggles ahead

Sunday 1 Jan 2012

Thousands of Egyptians turned up in Tahrir Square to celebrate the arrival of 2012 (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
By 8:30pm Tahrir square was packed. The flag-bearers were back. The neon pink standard of the candy-floss man could be spotted again, bobbing over people’s heads in the crowd. The men with their fireworks had also returned.

People were handing out stickers calling for the release of detained blogger Maikel Nabil and were carrying posters of shaheed (martyrs) commemorating the dead.

Groups huddled together to keep warm.

On the stage the poet Abdel Rahman Youssef was speaking beautifully about the continued fight for freedom. Had this been a few weeks ago, we would have been facing bullets and tear gas. But last night, for the first time in months, it was a celebration.

“I wanted to be here, to see the New Year in the square. It’s important,” Magdy, 54, tells me as he stands next to his daughter who is beaming. “Next year will be good, I hope, but we are in the process of getting freedom, we have a long way to go.”

I bumped into Ramy Essam before he was due to go on stage. Dubbed the singer of the revolution, Ramy was detained and tortured by the Egyptian military back in March. The photos of Ramy’s whipped and beaten back became one the iconic images of the revolution.

“I’m not sure 2012 will be better than 2011, but we will do our best to make it better. We will keep fighting... Right now, everyone here is very happy.” Ramy sang “Irhal” (Leave) to ecstatic crowds, a song he penned in the 18 days and initially dedicated to Mubarak.

Amnesty International: 'US firms shipped teargas to Egypt during crackdown'

Karen McVeigh - guardian.co.uk

Amnesty International condemns State Department as 'irresponsible' for granting export licences to munitions firms.

Two US companies have shipped crowd control munitions and teargas to Egypt – one firm repeatedly – in the midst of violent and often lethal crackdowns on protesters by security forces, according to an Amnesty International investigation.

The human rights group has asked for Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, to stop granting export licences for teargas and other munitions, pending an investigation into its misuse by Egyptian forces.

Combined Systems Inc (CSI), based in Jamestown, Pennysylvania, has sent at least three arms deliveries to Egypt since the protests began in Tahrir Square on 25 January, according to Amnesty. The most recent delivery, addressed to the interior ministry, arrived in the port of Adabiya near Suez on 26 November, only 48 hours after days of bloody clashes between interior ministry troops and protesters left two dozen dead and thousands injured.

Amnesty said the November shipment contained at least seven tonnes of "ammunition smoke" - which includes chemical irritants and crowd control agents such as teargas.

The investigation tallies with eyewitness reports from Egyptian demonstrators who told the Guardian last month they had seen teargas canisters branded with CSI's name and address.

From Ireland’s Bloody Sunday to Egypt’s- solidarity messages

Solidarity messages were received from Ireland…

First one from Eamonn McCann, a leading Irish journalist, socialist and one of the legendary figures in the country’s civil rights movement…

On January 30 1972, British paratroopers opened fire on unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry in Northern Ireland, killing 14 people and wounding 14 others. The day has become known in Ireland as Bloody Sunday.

Some of us who had been on the demonstration on Bloody Sunday have campaigned since for the truth to be told and justice achieved for the victims. I served as chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust, which has been at the heart of the campaign. After 38 years, on June 15th 2010, we finally forced the Government of David Cameron to admit that the massacre had been carried out by British soldiers and had been “unjustified and unjustifiable”. This was a great success for the campaign and a great joy for the families of the victims.

But the massacre had further poisoned relations between the Nationalist (Catholic) and Unionist (Protestant) communities in Northern Ireland. This enabled the British State to blame all violence on “religious differences” among the mass of the people and to claim that its forces were neutral and had to stand between the “warring communities” and keep them apart.

Numerous attacks on the Catholic community over the last four decades were blamed on the Protestant community. But many of these have now been PROVEN to have been set up by the British intelligence services. These attacks have included the murder of civil rights lawyers and community leaders.