Monday,16 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013
Monday,16 July, 2018
Issue 1136, 21 - 27 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Protests pay off

Police and conscripts have ended their strike after most of their demands were met, Ahmed Morsy reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Pressing for their demands, hundreds of low-ranking police personnel in 10 governorates staged sit-ins in the last few days and announced their readiness to escalate by shutting down security departments. They also demanded that Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim resign. It was only after the minister partially responded to some of their demands that things started to calm down.

“Leave, leave, Ibrahim”, chanted the police and conscripts in various governorates, accusing the minister of getting too close to the country’s Islamist leadership.

The protesters, mostly conscripts but escorted by a few officers, also protested against why their demands were not being met, which include the arming of low-ranking police, providing them and their families with medical treatment at police hospitals, as well as issuing a law to develop the police apparatus. Moreover, they rejected the new proposed protest law.

“The reason behind their strike was that they believed that the government plan to ban demonstrations via the draft law would pitch them into confrontation with protesters,” a security official told Al-Ahram Weekly.

In Assiut, protesters demonstrated against the Brotherhoodisation of the ministry and demanded legal changes and a danger bonus for having to deal with political violence.

“The minister ordered the commanders to listen to their demands,” the source added.

Mohsen Abdel-Fattah, media spokesman for the General Union of Police Personnel and Conscripts, said low-ranking police officers in Alexandria, Sharqiya, Qalioubiya, Menoufiya, Beheira, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Beni Sweif, Assiut, Sohag and the Red Sea started an open-ended sit-in last week until, they said, their demands are met.

As a result, Ibrahim agreed to arm low-ranking police officers and personnel “to combat dangerous criminals”, among 19 other demands agreed upon. In order to show seriousness, the minister agreed to allocate 100,000 pistols to personnel and conscripts to allow them to protect themselves during violent clashes.

The strike was staged after security forces and anti-government demonstrators clashed in the capital and other cities. According to Reuters, at least 59 people were killed in protests from 25 January, the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, until 4 February. On the other hand, several police officers were reportedly killed in recent clashes with protesters. According to the Ministry of Interior, at least 173 police forces personnel were killed since January 2011.

In addition, Ibrahim agreed to cancel all existing penalties and disciplinary military trials for police personnel. He also ordered the facilitation of administrative requirements for low-ranking personnel in order to be promoted. He is planning to accept 1,500 low-ranking officers for the ‘officers of honour” cadre.

Ibrahim also agreed to purchase 120 residential apartments for conscripts and personnel as well as form a special committee to look into increasing end-of-service rewards for low-ranking officers. Another committee will be formed to develop a healthcare system provided by the ministry to all police personnel and their families, as well as establishing more hospitals.

“We are dragged into politics by being forced to confront protesters during mass rallies without being armed,” one of the conscripts said. “Our blood is cheap and no one cares for our safety,” he said.

Police forces, though, are accused of being too rough while dealing with demonstrators and dispersing them. Activists and revolutionary movements accuse the Interior Ministry of being Brotherhoodised because police officers and conscripts reportedly torture some protesters.

Mohamed Al-Guindi, a member of the Popular Current who died on 4 February, is an example since according to his friends and activists they always suspected he died as a result of torture. However, the assistant to Egypt’s top forensic doctor, Emad Al-Deeb said: “The forensic report confirmed that the death of Al-Guindi was due to a car accident and denied that he was subjected to any torture.”

Following the release of the official forensic report, Egypt’s Popular Current issued a press release late Saturday saying the reports on activist Al-Guindi were withheld by the Qasr Al-Nil prosecutor. The Popular Current added that the medical reports from the hospital where he was treated prior to his death have also been withheld from Al-Guindi’s family lawyers.

“When we requested the official documents from the Qasr Al-Nil prosecutor in order to present them to specialised doctors so as to figure out the cause of his death, the deputy attorney-general sent us to the chief prosecutor of Qasr Al-Nil who refused to grant us access to the reports,” Islam Khalifa, a lawyer involved in Al-Guindi’s case, told the Weekly.

“We resorted to legal proceedings after the rejection. Hence, we are awaiting the prosecution to agree to form a tripartite committee to inspect the forensic and hospital reports or even conduct a new forensic report,” Khalifa added.

The Popular Current stated that there was no logical explanation as to why Al-Guindi’s family lawyers were denied the necessary medical reports.

On Monday, Hamdi Mansour, attorney-general for the Central Cairo Prosecutions, rejected the possibility that the body of Al-Guindi could be examined in another autopsy.

“The body cannot be examined again. An autopsy should be performed only once. It was agreed to form a tripartite committee to draft a medical report over Al-Guindi’s death, in response to the victim’s family,” Mansour added.

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