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11 Dead in Tahrir, a Thousand Injured as Egypt Demands End to Military Rule

Over the last few days protests have been growing in Egypt in response to the continuing control of the government by Mubarak era military forces.

Only eight days away from parliamentary elections which activists believe are being subverted by the military to protect their continued control, activists are back in Tahrir, Alexandria and Suez demanding democratic control of the Egyptian government.

The SCAF (Supreme Council of Armed Forces) which has been governing since Mubarak’s ouster has not only backed away from the promises of power transfer but has proven even more repressive with over 12,000 arrested and frequently tortured by military rather than civilian courts. Two recent events have drawn added attention to conditions. On November 1st, activist blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was detained after accusing the military of responsibility for the deaths of activists on October 9th and for refusing to cooperate with military courts. A letter from Alaa smuggled out by his pregnant wife closed with a comment by one of his cellmates:

Abu Malek interrupts my thoughts: “I swear by God if this revolution doesn’t do something radical about injustice it will sink without a trace.”

Alaa’s arrest coincided with the military’s attempt to seize even more power with the announcement of their “supraconstitutional principles”:

In early November, the SCAF-appointed interim government met with political leaders to press for the adoption of supraconstitutional principles to perpetuate the military’s autonomy over its own affairs. For example, one provision would force legislators to obtain the military’s approval before issuing any laws affecting it. Another would make military financial allocations appear as a singly entry on the national budget, thereby preventing detailed parliamentary oversight. The principles would also give the SCAF wide discretion over Egypt’s next constitution, including the authority to select 80 percent of the initial drafting committee and, if that body fails to complete its task within six months, to independently select an entirely new constitutional assembly.?

Following a mass demonstration on Friday against SCAF’s hold on power, a relatively small group began a new encampment in Tahrir Square yesterday only to be brutally evicted by police and security forces – with their tents set on fire. As of 4PM CST, reliable reports put the death toll at 11 and the twitpic below shows “eight unmoving bodies” while the video up top shows security forces dragging one onto a trash pile. Questions are being raised about the tear gas and other “nonlethal” weapons being used – as well as pointed reminders that these chemicals are produced by US companies and bought with US aid dollars as doctors report a number of the deaths were caused by asphyxiation. 8 unmoving bodies in tahrir, pic i took 3 hours ago, just got... on Twitpic

Rather than ending the protests, these actions have again inspired Egyptians to take to the streets.

…they have decided to stage the sit-in because they believe remnants of the old regime are still running the country, and given the lack of a clear timetable for a transition of power to an elected civilian government. The forces said that the political movements and forces of the revolution are the only source of authority in the country and have decided to revive the January 25 Revolution.

They added that they will continue their sit-in until Essam Sharaf’s government is immediately dissolved, a national salvation government, which will oversee the transitional period along with parliamentary and presidential elections, is formed, and the ruling military junta is stripped of its political cout. The groups are also demanding that parliamentary elections are held on their scheduled date, that presidential elections are held on 1 April 2012, and that the Interior Ministry be reformed.

Among the 18 forces that released the statement are the Revolution Youth Coalition, the 6 April Movement (Democratic Front), the Revolution’s Protectors Council, the Revolution Youth Alliance, the Free Movement for Peaceful Change, and the Egyptian Current.

Al Masry Al Youm and Al Jazeera English are providing running accounts of events while a more direct view from the streets is seen via 3arabawy.

Along with violence against the protesters, security forces also attacked the media:

An Ahram Online reporter has been beaten and robbed by Egyptian central security forces while covering clashes in downtown Cairo. Ahmed Feteha was witnessing a stand-off on the intersection of Talaat Harb and Boustan around 6pm, when he was attacked by several members of central security. 
His assailants beat him with batons, took his mobile phone and ID and detained him on Talaat Harb street, at that point the focus of pitched battles between protesters and state security.
Upon complaining of the violent treatment to a senior officer, Feteha was beaten a second time. Security forces also took his money and wallet. Feteha was released shortly afterwards.

Similar reports have noted attacks on an Al Masry and others.

This evening,

The square, which has been the scene of street battles between riot police and activists demanding an end to Egypt’s military leadership, was relatively calm on Sunday night after protesters regained control of the area and began calling for reinforcements.”

As the protesters were chanting earlier: “The Revolution is still here in Tahrir.”

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com