Broken arm sees protest put down by Egypt police

Broken arm sees protest put down by Egypt police

CAIRO: The Egyptian government was in no mood to deal with protesters. On the second anniversary of the April 6, 2008, protests, downtown Cairo was packed with uniformed and plainclothes security officials.

This year, protesters attempted to go through legal channels. The 6 April Youth applied for a permit for a peaceful march from downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square to the Egyptian Parliament. The permit was denied. Activists decided to protest anyway.

They went to the streets demanding changes to the Constitution and the end of the Emergency Laws – laws that inhibit the freedom of assembly. Scores went to the streets.

Since around noon, when protests were scheduled to begin, more than 80 persons have been detained. Some reports indicate the number may be much higher than that: after the 80 known detainees were moved to a police station in Nasr City, another three military trucks then reportedly moved from Tahrir to the same station. The exact number of detainees in the three trucks is unknown.

Amnesty International’s Ahmed Maged is one of more than 80 people who have been arrested so far. Maged is also a member of the al-Ghad opposition. The protest then moved to the press syndicate, where dozens of protesters were chanting on the steps at around 3 pm.

More than 20 protesters have sustained injuries in confrontations with security. According to reports from 6 April leadership, female protesters were being beaten by uniformed female security officials outside Parliament. They reported that one female protester was beaten so badly, she sustained a broken arm.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) has reported that protesters in Alexandria were also badly injured, although they did not give further information.

The situation in Tahrir Square was tense all day. An hour before protests were scheduled to begin, two female American journalists filming the lines of uniformed policemen in front of Hardees and KFC were cornered by plainclothes state security officers. The men, who never identified themselves, repeatedly attempted to pull the women’s cameras away and physically move them from the street.

Activists were arrested in Tahrir Square and also in front of the Parliament building, where women have been sexually harassed and mobile phones and gold jewelry have been confiscated. Journalists have also faced intimidation, although there have been reports lately of cameras being returned to their owners.

Sarah Carr, a reporter with the Daily News Egypt said on her Twitter account that police had grabbed her behind during the commotion.

At 12:06 pm, opposition leader Ayman Nour, a group of activists and al-Ghad party members attempted to leave the party headquarters on Talat Harb street, just steps from Tahrir. According to Rammy Elswissy, the group was immediately surrounded by security and prevented from moving to Tahrir square. Nour told security officials that they were going to peacefully protest. Two al-Ghad members, including Nour’s eldest son, were briefly detained. The two were forced into a blue security truck, but released a few minutes lately. Nour’s son sustained scratches on his neck.

Following the attempt, state security blocked the doors to the al-Ghad headquarters and no one is being allowed out. More than 70 people are currently locked inside the headquarters, including Nour and other top members of al-Ghad.

In response to the day’s events, Nour says: “What happened today is a violation to the basic human rights of the people. But the Egyptian people will continue its struggle for change, for the bright tomorrow which we aspire.”

Nour’s involvement in today’s protests makes Mohamed ElBaradei’s absence particularly striking. While ElBaradei has been ushered into the domestic political scene over the past few months, he has infrequently bothered to participate in domestic politics. In fact, his media representative said calling on the coalition to participate in today’s protest would disband the movement.

Facebook and Twitter are rippling with criticism over ElBaradei’s failure to show. Blogger Dalia Ziada criticizes the absence of the political elite, who, with the exception of Ayman Nour, were absent today. “Where are the prestigious intellectuals?” she asks. “Why (have) they disappeared now when real action is requested” by the people?

Republished with permission from Bikya Masr