translationcollective

March 13, 2011

The Eviction of Tahrir Square

Filed under: english — translationcollective @ 9:04 pm

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The following article was published March 10 on the blog “En route!Nouvelles de l’insurrection libyenne…”

We barely have news from Libya since yesterday. We only heard that on the front line fightings occurred on the outskirts of Ras Lanuf on the night of March 8th to 9th. Many insurgents had fled the city believing that it was soon taken back by Qaddafi’s forces. […] We take advantage of this lack of information coming from Libya, to publish an article that was sent by friends present in Egypt (Cairo). This concerns the eviction of Tahrir Square (that was still occupied since the end of January). Eviction that was almost not mentionned in the Western medias, and for a very good reason: it did not seem to be any journalists there.

The eviction of Tahrir Square

On Tahrir Square in Cairo, the median strip is still occupied by tens of tents. This village is fenced and the entrance is guarded by its occupants. Anyone who wants to go in has to certify that he is neither a policeman nor a resident from an unfriendly neighborhood, and that he is not in the least malicious. For few days, many undercover cops, sent by the government, try to discredit the Tahrir Square implacable occupants by spreading rumors, slanders and confusion about what is happening here.

The government sends its agents to be interviewed by Western journalists and spread their lie/steam. »Those who remain here are the bad protesters, good protesters came back home and those who remain are destabilizing the economy and tourism. » For several nights, the government has sent prostitutes in order to spread the rumor that the camp would be organizing prostitution.

« Those of Tahrir. »

A small group, which presents itself as « Those of Tahrir, undertook to explain us » what really happened here. « They came back on the events since January 25th and explained us that the government keeps trying to break the movement since then; for exemple by dividing groups and separating their claims. In the first place,the government dealt with the Muslim Brotherhood, the only politically and materially truely organized body.In exchange for their departure from Tahrir Square it assented to some of their claims, namely the release of some prisoners and a few extra seats in parliament. Then, in the second place it’s the youth that has been divided. 35 young people were thus selected to create a group linked to the government. The latest atempt to separate the movement was the intensification of the divide between Muslim and Coptic communities. According to « People of Tahrir, the arsons of churches those recent days and riots that came of it, were triggered by the government. Faced with this attempt to divide, they argue: « One mind, one Egypt. » The people we met live days and nights on Tahrir Square since January 25th , they didn’t know eachother before and do not belong to any political organization. Every night they meet to take stock of the day and talk about the next one. Their current concern is to extinguish the rumors and organize a Friday prayer between Copts and Muslims.They shall remain until the whole system disappears. Their project is to buy a truck and go through Egypt, in every city, encouraging people to organize. »And after saying ‘bye bye’, we wont to know their names, we don’t want them to know ours, we don’t want to become their leaders. »

We left the Tahrir Square at around 15:30. The tension was palpable throughout the 
day: cries, started fights, and the comings and goings of people armed with sticks. A little farther, groups from fifty to a hundred people were gaathering around the few tanks still on duty in the area and seemed to discuss intensely. A little later, at the other end of town, we run into the police headquarters, protected by tanks and hight barbed wire . Across the street, dozens of protesters with « Go out » signs. As he saw us discuss and laugh with them, a soldier quickly came up and asked us to follow him. A protester cried out to us not to enter the building. Unfortunately, we soon find ourselves on the wrong side of barbed wire, surrounded by four soldiers and a guy with a leather jacket, coming straight out of a bad spy movie. They checked our ID and made sure we weren’t journalists. When we got out, protesters had disappeared.

The expulsion, destruction, lynching. Or « So that’s democracy. »

Late in the afternoon, we returned on Tahrir Square. We arrived just before the military deployed and prevented access to the site. Hundreds of people were coming to attack the camp. Armed with batons, iron bats, machetes, they now keep on destroying every installation of the camp. It was a scene of mass hysteria: everything was broken, even the martyrs’ monument for those who died for the revolution. The army was actively involved in this true manhunt. The occupants of Tahrir Square were hunted, caught and beaten. The same fate was reserved for those who tried to take pictures. We quickly realized that a huge number of people were undercover policemen. Trying to take pictures, we couldn’t escape the lynching.We got separated in the crush. The group that carried the camera, got run after by a hundred of angry people and some soldiers. They got caught, beaten up by the crowd, taken to makeshift headquarters of the army in front of the Cairo museum, with insults and slaps. While the chief emptied our camera, those of Tahrir Square were getting beaten by the army and the crowd. A man who apparently fainted was carried, wrapped in a carpet. We are « invited » to leave the place quickly.

Meanwhile, some of us were still on Tahrir Square. Tanks moved at full speed. They intervened at the entrance of a cafe, where an occupant who fled the place took cover inside was turned out of it by thirty bad guys. No image shall be taken, even those on the balconies were insulted and were the targets of thrown stones. Another friend was caught with his camera and taken away by force, beaten up by the crowd, to the military camp. When we left the place, cleaning trucks were already there and everyone kept busy removing the last signs of the revolution.

23:00. On an unrecognizable Tahrir Square, completely cleaned, a small group of “protesters” is carrying a police officer in triumph.

Cairo, March 9.

We found a video about the events on Tahrir Square that day

http://www.youtube.com/watch?hl=fr&v=sK2jNRyt_ZE

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