A letter from Cairo to the Occupy movements & other solidarity movements.
After three decades of living under a dictatorship, Egyptians started a revolution demanding bread, freedom and social justice. After a nearly utopian occupation of Tahrir Square lasting eighteen days, we rid ourselves of Mubarak and began the second, harder, task of removing his apparatuses of power. Mubarak is gone, but the military regime lives on. So the revolution continues – building pressure, taking to the streets and claiming the right to control our lives and livelihoods against systems of repression that abused us for years.
But now, seemingly so soon after its beginnings, the revolution is under attack. We write this letter to tell you about what we are seeing, how we mean to stand against this crackdown, and to call for your solidarity with us.
The 25th and 28th of January, the 11th of February: you saw these days, lived these days with us on television. But we have battled through the 25th of February, the 9th of March, the 9th of April, the 15th of May, the 28th of June, the 23rd of July, the 1st of August, the 9th of September, the 9th of October. Again and again the army and the police have attacked us, beaten us, arrested us, killed us. And we have resisted, we have continued; some of these days we lost, others we won, but never without cost.
Over a thousand gave their lives to remove Mubarak. Many more have joined them in death since. We go on so that their deaths will not be in vain. Names like Ali Maher (a 15 year old demonstrator killed by the army in Tahrir, 9th of April), Atef Yehia (shot in the head by security forces in a protest in solidarity with Palestine, 15th of May), Mina Danial (shot by the Army in a protest in front of Masepro, 9th of October). Mina Daniel, in death, suffers the perverse indignity of being on the military prosecutor’s list of the accused.
Moreover, since the military junta took power, at least 12,000 of us have been tried by military courts, unable to call witnesses and with limited access to lawyers. Minors are serving in adult prisons, death sentences have been handed down, torture runs rampant. Women demonstrators have been subjected to sexual assault in the form of “virginity tests” by the Army.
On October 9th, the Army massacred 28 of us at Maspero; they ran us over with tanks and shot us down in the street while manipulating state media to try and incite sectarian violence. The story has been censored. The military is investigating itself. They are systematically targeting those of us who speak out. This Sunday, our comrade and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was imprisoned on trumped-up charges. He spends another night in an unlit cell tonight.
All this from the military that supposedly will ensure a transition to democracy, that claimed to defend the revolution, and seemingly convinced many within Egypt and internationally that it was doing so. The official line has been one of ensuring “stability”, with empty assurances that the Army is only creating a proper environment for the upcoming elections. But even once a new parliament is elected, we will still live under a junta that holds legislative, executive, and judicial authority, with no guarantee that this will end. Those who challenge this scheme are harassed, arrested, and tortured; military trials of civilians are the primary tool of this repression. The prisons are full of casualties of this “transition”.
We now refuse to co-operate with military trials and prosecutions. We will not hand ourselves in, we will not submit ourselves to questioning. If they want us, they can take us from our homes and workplaces.
Nine months into our new military repression, we are still fighting for our revolution. We are marching, occupying, striking, shutting things down. And you, too, are marching, occupying, striking, shutting things down.
We know from the outpouring of support we received in January that the world was watching us closely and even inspired by our revolution. We felt closer to you than ever before. And now, it’s your turn to inspire us as we watch the struggles of your movements. We marched to the US Embassy in Cairo to protest the violent eviction of the occupation in Oscar Grant Plaza in Oakland. Our strength is in our shared struggle. If they stifle our resistance, the 1% will win – in Cairo, New York, London, Rome – everywhere. But while the revolution lives our imaginations knows no bounds. We can still create a world worth living.
You can help us defend our revolution.
The G8, IMF and Gulf states are promising the regime loans of $35 billion. The US gives the Egyptian military $1.3 billion in aid every year. Governments the world over continue their long-term support and alliance with the military rulers of Egypt. The bullets they kill us with are made in America. The tear gas that burns from Oakland to Palestine is made in Wyoming. David Cameron’s first visit to post-revolutionary Egypt was to close a weapons deal. These are only a few examples. People’s lives, freedoms and futures must stop being trafficked for strategic assets. We must unite against governments who do not share their people’s interests.
We are calling on you to undertake solidarity actions to help us oppose this crackdown.
We are suggesting an International Day to Defend the Egyptian Revolution on Nov 12th under the slogan “Defend the Egyptian Revolution – End Military Trials for Civilians”
Events could include:
– Actions targeting Egyptian Embassies or Consulates demanding the release of civilians sentenced in military tribunals. If Alaa is released, demand the release of the thousands of others.
– Actions targeting your government to end support for the Egyptian junta.
– Demand the release of civilians sentenced to military tribunals. If Alaa is released, the thousands of others must follow.
– Project videos about the repression we face (military trials, Maspero massacre) and our continued resistance. Email us for links.
– Videoconferencing with activists in Egypt
– Any creative way to show your support, and to show the Egyptian people that they have allies abroad.
If you’re organising anything or wish to, email us at email@example.com. We would also love to see photos and videos from any events you organize.
Occupy Wall Street & Occupy London respond
Sandy Nurse, of Occupy Wall Street, said: “The Egyptian people have changed the face of the regime and the revolution is momentous but unfortunately it is far from over. Changing the face of the regime, getting rid of Mubarak, is like changing the curtains: the military is in control of the country and has been for a long time.”
Nurse, who is on the direct action committee of OWS, expressed her personal solidarity with the people of Egypt and added: “I believe Occupy Wall Street would be in solidarity with the continued struggle of the Egyptian protesters.”
Anup Desai, a press spokesman for OWS, said: “The effort put out by the entire country in Egypt gave us motivation. Egypt has won the first step. I was not aware what was happening so I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and I thank the Egyptian activists. What is happening with the military and the military courts is 100% wrong and we need to share this and tell people about it.”
Desai, who is also a professor of philosophy at City University of New York, expressed solidarity with the activists and said: “We need to keep coming together.”
Naomi Colvin, from the Occupy London movement, said: “All decisions are made through a general assembly but I’m sure we will strongly support the call from our friends in the Middle East to stand in solidarity with them through an international day of action.
“Egyptians provided us with an example of courage that has inspired not only our own protest but many others around the world, and we owe it to them to support their ongoing struggle in any way we can.”
Links between political upheavals in the Arab world and the campaign against financial injustice in the west have strengthened in recent weeks, with demonstrators on both sides claiming inspiration from the others’ struggle. On Wednesday protesters in Oakland waved an Egyptian flag during their general strike, prompting some Cairo-based bloggers to reflect on the similarities between the police tactics used in the US and Egypt. On Thursday activists camping outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London conducted a live video link with anti-regime protesters in Syria, while plans are under way for a solidarity rally on Saturday in support of Egyptians being held by the junta.