• 23:01
  • Wednesday ,03 August 2011

Rights activists, protesters slam violent raid of Tahrir Square

By-Heba Fahmy and Mai Shams El-Din-Daily News Egypt

Home News


Wednesday ,03 August 2011

Rights activists, protesters slam violent raid of Tahrir Square

CAIRO: Human rights organizations condemned Tuesday the army's raid on the open sit-in in Tahrir Square on Monday, which left dozens injured and 111 detained.

"The continuation of oppression and violence after a revolution toppling a dictatorship is very sad, in addition to remarks by the ruling military council members accusing the protesters of being thugs, saboteurs and agitators causing rifts between the army and the people," said the Arab Network of Human Rights Information (ANHRI) in a statement released Tuesday.
Ismail Etman, member of the ruling military council, said on Monday night that 111 "thugs" were arrested from Tahrir square.
Etman, also head of the Morale Affairs Department of the Armed Forces, told TV show "Honna El-Asema" on CBC channel that the "thugs" preempted the attack by throwing rocks on members of the armed forces, and some of them had weapons. An army officer was injured in the clashes, he added.
The army general said the detained would be referred to general prosecution, instead of the military prosecution.
Lawyer Ragia Omran said on her twitter account on Tuesday afternoon that the detained protesters were transferred to general prosecution office after being detained in the military prosecution in Nasr City.
The "No to Military Trials for Civilians" group put the number of detainees at 150 including 85 documented cases. Eight were reportedly released on Tuesday afternoon by the military prosecution.
The Front for Defending Egypt's Protesters (FDEP) had sent a letter to the Prosecutor General late Monday demanding the disclosure of the detainees' whereabouts so lawyers can accompany them during investigations.
The front published a preliminary list of the detainees on its website including 82 arrested, thee missing and two injured.
Several journalists were also arrested including BBC reporter Shaimaa Mahmoud Kahlil and Abdel-Rahman Ezz, a reporter for the local January 25 channel. Khalil was released later on Tuesday.
Tarek Moawad, FDEP lawyer, said that several protesters were severely injured by military officers, but he couldn't determine the number of injured. The Ministry of Health told Daily News Egypt that the exact number of injured is yet to be determined.
Protesters accused the military of using excessive force against them.
Ali Hassan, father of martyr Mohab Hassan, said in phone interview on ONTV channel on Monday evening that he was accompanying another martyr's father, who was beaten up by military police and was transferred to Qasr El-Aini Hospital but was later moved to El-Agouza Hospital.
"The old man is dying after being severely (beaten) by military police who were clearing the square in a new farce in Egypt," Hassan said.
However, El-Agouza hospital denied on Tuesday that it received any patients from Tahrir Square.
Hassan said that General Hassan El-Ruwainy, member of SCAF was on site around 15 minutes before iftar, when the martyrs' families pleaded with him to rebuild their tents and he agreed.
"We are families of martyrs, who cannot stay in our homes, while everyone is enjoying Ramadan's first iftar," Hassan told El-Ruwainy.
Hassan said that despite El-Ruwainy's approval, officers harassed the martyrs' families as they were rebuilding the tents and ordered them to leave the square.
"We wanted to pray at Omar Makram Mosque but they entered it with their shoes and forced us to leave," Hassan said.
Farid Allam, founder of the Coalition for the Egyptian Revolutionary Council, echoed Hassan's claims in a phone interview with DNE from inside Omar Makram mosque on Tuesday.
"They attacked us inside the mosque and detained some of us," Allam said about Monday’s raid. "They beat us severely with batons as if they have no mercy in their heart."
The situation was calm on Tuesday and only a few protesters remained unbothered by military forces inside the mosque, he added.
Some activists claimed that police informants infiltrated the lines of the peaceful protests at the entrances and ignited clashes with the army.
"Some people from Tahrir Square wanted to attack the army with butane gas canisters, but the rest of the protesters prevented them," activist Lilian Wagdy told DNE.
Wagdy added that the protesters formed a human shield between the square and the army to prevent any clashes from taking place. After a while the army charged the square and attacked for no reason, she added.
Activist and member of the No to Military Trials group Shahira Abouellail recounted her ordeal in a blog post titled "Day of Shame".
She said that one of the informants who had befriended the protesters pointed her out to military police. She was then grabbed and taken to a Jeep. Many protesters claimed that some of the men who had been protecting the entrances to Tahrir over the past two weeks turned out to be informants.
Abouellail was briefly detained by military police officers who accused her of being a spy. "I told [the officer] that if we were agents, we wouldn’t be here risking our lives," she said. "Agents don’t take stupid risks."
She was later assaulted by soldiers when she went to support the martyrs’ families standing in front of the administrative building of Mogamma’.
"Shame on you for condoning violence against your fellow citizens. Shame on you for abandoning your martyrs and their families," she wrote.
By Tuesday morning, traffic flow had returned to normal in Tahrir Square with no sign of protesters or tents.
Dozens of central security officers surrounded the garden in the middle of the square — once housing perched up tents — while gardeners worked on restoring the garden.
Two tanks guarded the entrance to the square from Abdel-Moneim Riad, while a few army cars were seen dispersed around the square.
Shop vendors around the square praised the army for getting rid of the "loafers" in Tahrir and opening the roads for traffic.
"We are back in business now, and things are going well," a shop vendor who preferred to remain anonymous told DNE.
Some political powers condemned the raid, while others blamed the protesters for closing the roads and obstructing business during the holy month of Ramadan.
Mohamed Adel, spokesperson for April 6 Youth Movement, said that the movement was totally against using force towards peaceful protesters.
However, head of El-Tagammu Party, Rifaat Al-Saeid, said the protesters in Tahrir rallied the rest of the people against them by obstructing their business and hindering the flow of traffic.
"The sit-in went on for too long and the people got fed up," he said.
Groups of protesters had tried to open the square to traffic on Sunday after 26 groups suspended their sit-in a day earlier. A meeting of groups participating in the sit-in on Sunday evening decided otherwise, but on Monday morning protesters said they were still trying to convince the rest to open the square.