A Certain Case of Egypt…

Posted: November 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Those who refuse to see or speak up - think this one is in front of Estoril

 

 

Jesus and Tank .. 18 Sep Factory Space 'You CANNOT simply KILL A PROBLEM AWAY' !!!

 

No Retreat No Surrender Egypt

 

Egyptian SecurityMercenaries [Police+Army]

The words intended for a piece I was supposed to post left there from 3 days ago…

 In months past SCAF has ruled Egypt uncontested. Yet now they sit silent like a group of guilty cooks who have placed unknown ingredients into the oven, waiting for the bell to ring or for the whole thing to blow up in everyone’s face.

We suspect we shall never entirely know the damage done by their months of governance, as was the case after Mubarak’s exit from power. Especially so, as more of their ‘cooking’ continues to blow up in our faces, long after they have left.

Despite the numerous clashes and protests and shows of dissent around all Egypt’s governorates, SCAF have not uttered a single fb communiqué since congratulating Egyptians on Eid el-Fitr. Some surmise that this silence would mean that SCAF prefer not to say anything which may become self-incriminating at such a critical time. Especially after the Selmi super-duper-document that was meant to elevate SCAF to Godhood, in exchange for a few rights and liberties and half-promises not to hit citizens too hard in the future.

Those who claim not to know, suspect that there may be corruption in the military institution, just like every other institution in Egypt in the past decades, after all they lived in the same ‘culture’ as everyone else. Needless to say, many institutions in Egypt under Mubarak developed some measure of chronic corruption. And since that was a powerful intention at the core of governance, such in turn it translated to all the little details in our lives; from bribes to get paperwork finished or park, to the way we treat each other when driving, to this constant dog-eat-dog/survival of the fittest mentality, best exemplified by the victims of the lines for bread and gas, or by the way people fight to get on a bus.

Then again, for a week Egyptians stood in line to get on microbuses. They did so until they realized it was only a cruel joke; all this talk about bread, freedom and social justice. Yet nonetheless, for a short period Egyptians believed.

Which means it can be done again..

Which gives me hope..

And maybe next time it can be real ?

……

That was 3 days ago. 

Now I’m bruised and bumpy all over, and at a computer for the first time trying to catch up coming out from the dark, information seclusion we were subjected to by the MOI, nothing of my sentiment has changed- except for the amount of hope I have for Egyptians. That hope is gone completely. In its place now resides belief.

That we are capable of any dream as long as we’re intent to see it through.

Initially I was against what I thought was a flimsy-Friday-sit-in on Nov 18th. Now I see the divine providence in its timing. This is the Egyptian phoenix finally rising from the ashes. And so close to the imaginary finish-line SCAF had placed- i.e. the parliamentary elections.

Being the boring kind of guy that I am, bear with all the I and me’s  and explanations of the mindset of myself and others around me through our group ordeal.

This is my draft testimony to the events that happened Nov 19 & what followed.

After meeting with a visiting friend and talking Tahrir at a downtown café a friend came to say hi after seeing my reflection in a mirror. Mousa explained that a while ago a police ‘deportation’ truck was set on fire in the Midan. He was taking a break from the teargas and asked why I wasn’t anywhere to be seen..

‘Mahu law 3amaltu e3tessam w 2oltu mafish entekhabat gheir lama el askar yemshi 7atla2ooni awell wa7ed’

[3ashan Safc el dimaa’ – bloodshed]

‘Simply, if you [Tahrir I meant] had arranged a sit-in calling for SAFC to leave immediately and then hold a truly free election for the People, then you would’ve found me first in line’

After Mousa left me and my friend sad goodbye as she had a dinner engagement and I had an especially late lunch arrangement – especially so, as I never showed up- Sorry Sherif : )

I walked down Tahrir St in the direction of Midan Tahrir [I hate calling it a square] to see what was happening there. Out of the side street next to AUC came a group of 50 Central Security Forces infantrymen and one chubby officer that was barking commands with 4 or 5 soldiers buzzing around him trying to look busy..

‘RELAX ! Let your eyes get used to the gas’

‘Now on my call take six paces forwards and stop. ‘ ‘GO!’

All the way to Tahrir and probably on to Qasr El Nil bridge..

To deal with low batteries I would film conservatively until the battery cut, as I had the charger in my bag. I aimed for shots that would show the officers identities, the atmosphere, and scope of the situation. Guess I had no idea what went on earlier, or how vicious Police had become.

I thought I’d be smart and slipped through a sidestreet after following CSF for a while and came out at McDonalds in Mohamed Mahmud. Despite my claims of some sort of spider-sense, I was totally fucked.

It must have been around 6 or 6.15, I managed to slip from the street next to McDonalds and start filming as I came out from Mohamed Mahmud onto Tahrir. There was a burning truck right round the bend and 3 seconds after starting to film, a fire engine broke into the frame and started putting the truck out. These 2 courageous personnel were battling a fire that grew at times, and faded at times, till it was finally conquered and out.

 I was half-filming half- moving towards corniche and Qasr el Nil. To create a safety net after noticing that the whole of Tahrir’s circle appeared stacked with CSF as groups of CSF were running around, I asked an Amin Shorta [police personnel] which was the ‘safest’ way to Corniche to head to Maadi. He waived his walkie-talkie antenna somewhere behind him.

I saw that the next fire was some distance down the road which goes from Tahrir to Qasr El Nil bridge. I started with the burning bike as the fire engine slid into my frame once again, and now the guys putting out the fire were competing in posing for the camera.

I guess that’s where I got really rash and lost all bearings and proper evaluation. I got a call from Ahmed my brother and told him I was next to Qasr El Nil and on my way to Maadi shortly to let him know I’m safe. Sometimes if you’re really outrageous you can get away with it, obviously this wasn’t one of them.

I mistakenly thought that an innocent passerby would be spared. I was wrong.

After finishing the call I moved towards the next fire, and looked up to see that I could make out the lines of CSF and protesters throwing rocks. I pretended to film the small burning generator for a tiny bit before focusing on the clashes between CSF and the protestors on Qasr EL Nil bridge.

Then the stone throwing reached an obvious jump in intensity which saw the CSF start to run away and abandon their positions quickly. As I filmed their retreat an officer screamed as he ran to me ‘What the fuck are you filming?!’ and immediately started punching me and trying to wring the phone from my hand. He couldn’t . And so from a very short distance from the entrance to Qasr El Nil, past the circle, the overly-generous swarms of wasp-like CSF that carried, pushed, pulled, stabbed with sticks, punched, beat with sticks, kicked everywhere, with 10 hands in every jeans pocket scrounging for spoils, and on the way to Mohamed Mahmud they finally managed to wring the phone from my hands, followed by the bag strap pulled cut.

‘Wasn’t it YOU that said I can walk in THAT direction !’ I screamed at the Amin shorta I had asked for directions..

He approached me with clearly a plain-clothes detective, and they pulled the CSF away from me and the detective walked me to the entrance of Mohamed Mahmud Street saying that I should forget about the stuff that was just stolen from me and be happy that I’m going home !

Exactly what was wrong with Egypt. Not because of crime, but because of ‘security forces’ the most Egyptians are allowed to dream of is going home to the safety of your bed. And then you can proudly chalk up another day you were ‘allowed’ to live in your country. W 3addi ya Leila…

But the commotion had attracted a new swarm at Mohamed Mahmud- the plain-clothes baltageyya, who actually scorned the detective and proceeded to kick punch, stab, stick, beat me all the way down Mohamed Mahmud. 

Note: The usual MO to the uninitiated involves being dragged on by your clothes [back of trousers, shoulders , sleeves, front of shirt] by  3 to 5 baltageyya/ CSF depending on how much ‘love’ they care to show, or just how bad their day was I guess.  All the while all the lines and groups and troops that you pass of CSF & baltageyya are extremely generous to say the least and put it at that.

Arriving at the corner to the MOI, I screamed at the bystanders watching from the corner something about ‘being Egyptian’ and standing by & watching injustice.. [Later it would be revealed that Salafi ‘Sheikh’ Sayyed would be arrested directly after filming me on his phone screaming at the crowds at that corner].

In the street to the Ministry of Interior someone called ‘Islam !’ it was Sophie and another friend. My only words ‘Spread it !’..

The baltageyya then transferred me yet again to the superior hands of the crowds of officers and plain-clothes detectives and officers at the MOI and methods that were new even to me started popping up left, right and center.

Fists and kicks keeping me constantly occupied, once again you had hands in every pocket as I was stripped from my jacket and my shirt ripped and used to tie my hands behind my back. Standing bare-chested in the freezing cold did not spare me further non-stop abuse, despite telling them that I’m a med student and a media professional [an attempt to earn sympathy from someone who had none to give].

I was actually grateful when someone else arrived [Mido a great guy who works as a bwab in Saad Zaghloul St]. I finally got to notice that actually there was one guy there before I was, Hussam. More of ‘us’ meant that they had to divide their attention which was actually better for all of us. I don’t know why, but for some reason they had a special place for me in their hearts so I was the most abused tofinally be thrown face first onto the ridged metal floor of the back of a police pickup until we arrived at the station. Once inside Abdeen precinct, I was beaten all the way up to CID or Mabahith on the 2nd floor. And being the only guy who was bare-chested , guess who got all the attention when someone new or generous walked into the room where we were told to stand facing the wall.. And from there the numbers just kept growing until there was a crowd behind me shielding me from harm. I waited for a relative calm before asking the Mabahith detective if he would untie me so I could wear my shirt.

‘His jacket is downstairs by the door of the precinct..’ said Mido.. one of the many bodies thrown and piled on top of me as I lay face down in the pickup..

Where? Asked the detective..

‘Right by the door whe you walk in .. on the step of the precinct ‘ said Mido..

The detective sent someone down as I was untied and slipped the remains of my shirt on, followed by the jacket when it arrived..

Right next to me Yehia was beaten hard for just asking if this was humane. And when they beat him he asked for representatives of the United Nations to come and  witness what we were being subjected to.. guess how many points that won him..? Suffice to say that there was a lot of talk of America and Israel LOL directed at him !

I arrived at the MOI sometime like 7, after completing the preceding hurdles. In the precinct 30 minutes later and we left a good hour [/+a half later]. [Another note: I have discovered that constant beating does severely affect your spatial-time recollections]

31 of us crowded in the back of a police truck [handcuffed in 2s and one 3], including 14 year-old Youssef and a girl.

Before leaving we were given our mobile phones back without the SIM cards so we couldn’t make any calls. On the bus we discovered that Hussam had another SIM in his shirt pocket. We tried to call everyone’s  contact ASAP in the window allotted through a dying battery and fear of getting caught. This was totally championed by Sheikh Sayyed who made calls to all he could till the battery died completely.

Where are we going? Voices rang out..

‘Maybe C28’ I said out loud ‘in Hayy el Asher’

It wouldn’t be C28.. though we passed right in front of it. It seems very close to C28 we might have gotten new coordinates. But that didn’t help either.

Halfway down the Ismailiyya desert Road the cars and truck parked on the side of the desert highway and an older plainclothed officer and the younger officers started making phonecalls where they didn’t do much talking. And as the older officer carried the look by someone strained by the phonecall, a younger officer kept running up to him with updates of something that he kept whispering into his ear. Parked on the Desert Road and all the cars and trucks rushing by, it was impossible for us to hear anything no matter how hard I tried.. but looking out at the situation from the other ‘front-window’ of their deportation truck, Menyawi [so called because he hails from Minya] asked solemnly.. Homa 7aysaffuna wala eeih ?!  [Are they gonna execute us here or what ?!] I have to say before he actually uttered it the exact same thought had flashed through my mind a millisecond earlier but I chose not to voice it..

We were all relieved when we started moving again.

We drove past 10th Ramadan City to Ismailiyya then back to the beginning of Ismailiyya Road to the Security Sector Camp called Salam [Peace].. and actually this was a place of peace.. To the point that many of us exclaimed as we were leaving something along the lines that ‘there’s no way you graduated from the same Police Academy the same cops we see graduated from !’

Was it that much of a stretch to replace an officer’s ‘KillKillKill’ chip with a new and shiny Police Ethic chip? We knew that the respectable officers in Salam were trying really hard, this was an attempt at something they probably had to deal with before. And I have to give credit where credit is due.. Thank you for trying to treat us as human beings.. it is very much appreciated.

But honestly, there was the only place I [or any of the group taken on 19/11/11] had encountered such police conduct and respect for rights. They even let us out at the gates of the camp; albeit on Ismailiyya Road. Hats off to GOOD Egyptian Police.

Back to the shit..

Entered into Salam Camp we were un-cuffed from each other , then drilled individually for hours by plainclothes officers [possibly Amn Dawla/ Watani whatever you want to name it] that seemed from the questions being asked that they were researching into anything that they can pull out of your background info and anything they get on you- possibly to formulate the niftiest-tightest version of the ‘magnificent’ charges to be leveled against us the next morning at the District Attorney. I was the last out of the interrogation and allowed to retire at 3.30 AM ‘with the possibility of needing me further’

Honestly, I’ve seen Abdeen’s DA in ’99 and yesterday.. still stinks the same way of corruption. The civil manner I was spoken to was not without hints of threatening tone at my refusal to sign as none of the details of my story were included in the District Attorney report. All in front of my ‘volunteer’ attorney who seemed more keen on what the DA thought of her than any right I might have as she kept twirling the pendant on her chain one way then the other as she kept agreeing with everything he said. Thus instead of what I just wrote above, it looked exactly something like this:

Q: ‘How do you respond to the charge of burning 3 Police trucks and injuring the 3 drivers and destroying public  property and attempting to disrupt our nation…. Ad infinitum????’

 A: ‘Nope, didn’t happen’

My answers  to the long rows and lines of questions was a slim column of ‘ma7asalsh’.. WTF ?!

Just before I had entered to the DA one of the ummm? Worst cases of physical inhumanity inflicted, was a guy who arrived from Abdeen precinct- In one leg he was shot with projectiles and in the other with buckshot [cartouche]. He actually had to scream out at the top of what his lungs could muster..

‘The longer this metal stays in my flesh, the closer I am to poisoning !! When will you allow me to see the DA?!’

Though one of the officers that came with us from Salam had nothing to do with Abdeen, he still went and asked the DA if this wounded man could be next- as he sat there bleeding still on the floor.

When we had arrived at the DA at 11 AM we were taken up a couple of floors and a cordon of infantrymen clad in black and brandishing sticks kept us all in a rectangular area of tiles to accommodate all 51 accused of the’ 5 Charges’ leveled against each and every one of us including the 3 girls, Yusuf [14] and another 14 year old boy.

After waiting for over an hour after we were all done with interrogations at the DA, it suddenly dawned upon us; that though they were finished with their side of things, they were waiting for ‘the decision’ to arrive from elsewhere- namely SCAF.

This had been a game of politics all along with every tool they could conceive, being used to their advantage and to discredit us and the protestors in Tahrir. So we simply started chanting loudly what we thought ;’El Niyyaba mestaneyya El Magles’ [Da is waiting for SCAF], along with El dakhliyya Baltageyya [Police are thugs !] and of course ‘Irfa3 Rasak Fo2 Enta Masry [hold your head up high Egyptian !]

Almost immediately they tried to organize our departure as we grew louder with both people caught on Nov 19 & 20 shaking this House of Justice to its foundations with their naked and battered voices

They hurried us down the steps and I caught a glimpse of my family on the floor below.. we were chanting Hold your head u high Egyptian & they were too.. the crowds on the floor below and the giant crowd outside the courthouse as we briefly appeared then disappeared into the police ‘deportation’ truck.

I will never forget this moment.

It changed each and every one of us; the group being charged with all this BS. For ever.

 After a good’s night sleep or none for me as the pain all over my body had began to set in, such I could not lay still. [And in light of the crammed sleeping situation we were in, I didn’t want to annoy anyone laying next to me by constantly shifting and heaving and laying on a side or area that does not hurt at the moment]…. Thus this translated into some sort of sleep deprivation-high after the sun came up.

Our quarters were a 4m X 7m [approximately] containing a baladi toilet tap and shower head in the cubicle in the far end of the room.

In the morning they started screwing with our heads…

‘Yes, we’re waiting for the DA decrees’

Then..

‘..well  they’re combining both cases from the 19th and the 20th into 1 case’

WTF ?!

So we were going to additionally be charged with slinging stones at the MOI when we were locked up safely by the MOI in the middle of the desert ?

Interesting to say the least..

Then they took us out in vans guarded by pickups jeeps, bikes, and civilian cars wailing through the streets of Cairo.. supposedly headed to the DA , our best-case scenario was well though we may be divided- whoever was to be released would be released, and whoever had to go to the Forensic Authority for a report would be released after obtaining that. [As if we had a free & independent forensic authority yet?!]

Other scenarios thought of SCAF being all-political and snub  about it, and hoping people would forget that they’re being screwed every single day they allow this to go on, and thus possibly sliding a 4-day detention in…

But before Azhar tunnel the whole motorcade turned back and simply head home to Salam camp again?! Explanation given: We received a call to turn back.

Q: Why??!

A: ‘Why’is the domain of the District Attorney. You will have to ask them that at the DA

AaaaaAaaaaaHhhhhh !

The morale soon crumbled after we were locked back in our ‘hole’. But from this deconstruction was born a new thing. Much more aligned and in sync with its different parts. Like I witnessed on Jan 25th, the whole group shifted to a new state of group-consciousness that quickly turned into a senate floor, planning then execution that we informed the officers in Salam of- as a courtesy seeing that they were so humane.

Without any details we explained the situation:

We left the DA at 11 [actually I came to learn it was actually midnight that we left the DA- just one of the way prison screws with your mind], thus at the end of 24 hours, which is the maximum period you can legally be detained for after being questioned by the DA without the DA producing a ‘decision’. After such a point then legally our detention would be classed legally as a kidnapping. Should such a point arrive then expect a consecutive serial escalation on our part to demand justice.

We didn’t tell them any details but it involved hunger strikes and other options.

We realized that though SCAF were not playing by the book, if Tahrir was to be respected, we had to.

Some 2 hours later? At 6ish a bunch of us including me were sent off to secure the forensic reports in another bigger motorcade though we were a small fragment of the group in the morning. This I thought was really stupid as this was rush hour and people that would head to Tahrir from work would ultimately cause the numbers in Tahrir to grow.  It was no surprise this time when we turned around before Azhar tunnel yet again with this giant monster of mobility and head back to Salam. When everyone on the truck started getting concerned and wanting to bang on the sides I explained my opinion that I thought this was political from the getgo and we were being used as scapegoats to try and shine a baltagiyya light n any legitimate form of dissent. Do you know that 1 of our Super 5 charges was congregating in a group of more than 5, when most of us were caught alone??! A new addition by the SCAF anti-protest law spawned in March.

In my opinion SCAF was indecisive and checking out what’s behind different windows, at a panicky rate. This meant that it was only a matter of time before they realized that this farcical frame-up was costing them toooo much and that it made sense to try and cool down public sentiment somewhat, by throwing us as another bone to the dogs. That is just insulting! Personally I’m going to Tahrir tomorrow! Let’s see how many Egyptians cool off!

How criminal is it to take a chrono-spatial section of the people around Tahrir at a certain window where they would be collecting souls to later present as baltagiyyas to a similarly criminal media- btw sure enough we had a Syrian, and a few LOL Libya connections [a foreign armed front charge? I wonder LOL]..

I am going to Tahrir because I love this country, though it has been nothing but unkind.

I am going to Tahrir because I think that Egyptians are wonderfuo, beautiful people

I am going to Tahrir because we deserve much better than this shit

While attempting to fill me in my brother Ahmed told e about a hashtag I think was called EgyPlan [perhaps??] where it said something to the effect of ‘Do you want a better Egypt that is neither America nor Afghanistan?’

My reflex answer was SCAF immediate exit and an immediate council of people that TRULY CARE FOR EGYPT & EGYPTIANS- their realm is intention. Thus if the people want 3amm Hussein who has a kibda sandwish cart in Tahrir, then he’s one of the women and men for the job! No question, if that’s who they can trust to not sell them out then so be it !

Technicians to handle all technical aspects and specializations, total clean upof every nstitution. An audit so we know where we stand and where we can balance dreams with reality. And of course Justice.

Simple

PS… Please excuse mistakes it’s 5.37 in the morning 😉

3ashet Masr Hurra Mustaqilla

Long Live Free and Independent Egypt

PSS… Actually the MOI has superb selection skills; how did they manage to choose such wonderful and beautiful people like the 50 something people I met on this group experience. Or is it that all Egyptians are just simply wonderful?

[+ 1 Syrian]

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