Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1122, 15 - 21 November 2012

Ahram Weekly

Days of freedom

Five days of events are planned by revolutionary groups to commemorate the anniversary of last year’s bloody clashes in Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Ahmed Morsy reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

For five days, beginning on 19 November 2011, Mohamed Mahmoud Street became a battlefield. The police opened fire on peaceful protesters, killing dozens and injuring hundreds. Huge quantities of tear gas canisters were fired at demonstrators, leaving them gasping for breath as motorcycles rushed past carrying the dead and injured to field hospitals which themselves came under attack from soldiers.
The five days of clashes erupted after security forces violently dispersed a sit-in in Tahrir Square of families of the victims of the revolution in the early hours of 19 November. At the time, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), and the then interior minister Mansour Eissawi, denied using any kind of violence in dispersing the protesters. Less than a month later clashes broke out in nearby Mansour Street leading to more injuries and more blood Downtown.
To commemorate the bloody battle in Mohamed Mahmoud Street several non-Islamist political groups have called for a five-day protest, dubbed the Days of Freedom, beginning on Monday. The 6 April Youth Movement, the National Association for Change, the Egypt Freedom Party, Dostour Party, the Free Egyptians Party and Democratic Workers Party are among the groups organising the protest. As well as commemorating the anniversary of the martyrs, they say they will use the event to express their rejection of the draft constitution.
“It will not be a celebration. Funerary marches will be organised to commemorate the martyrs of Mohamed Mahmoud Street,” Mahmoud Afifi, media spokesperson of the 6 April Youth Movement, told Al-Ahram Weekly. On Tuesday evening, a commemorative march was staged from Cairo University to Mohamed Mahmoud Street, with dozens of students carrying coffins and gallows to press for retribution for the revolution’s martyrs.
Mohamed Mahmoud Street, says Afifi, “will be adorned with flowers and the portraits of those killed last year”.
The protests will focus on three demands.
“The first is justice for the martyrs. Not one of their killers has been jailed so far. The second is the investigation and prosecution of members of the SCAF who orchestrated the violence. Our third demand is a radical overhaul of the Interior Ministry and the Central Security Forces.”
Moez Abdel-Karim, a member of the executive committee of the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, echoed Afifi’s three demands.
“In addition, there will be dramatic presentations to remind us of the martyrs,” Abdel-Karim told the Weekly.
“We will display gas masks and eye patches which demonstrators used during last year’s clashes. The items will be distributed and sold.”
Left leaning activist Kamal Khalil used his Facebook page to urge youth movements and political parties to participate in the demonstrations and to voice other demands.
“Revolutionary forces and civil parties and movements must take part. They need to develop strategies to challenge President Mohamed Morsi, through the courts if necessary,” he said.  
Meanwhile, the trial of the 379 demonstrators accused of attacking security forces during the Mohamed Mahmoud clashes resumes on Saturday.
Haitham Al-Shawaf, general coordinator of the Alliance of the Revolutionary Forces, confirmed that political parties and revolutionary groups are working together to prepare for the anniversary of the clashes.
“Families of the martyrs and the injured have been invited to the commemoration,” Al-Shawaf told the Weekly. “And I expect all parties committed to a civil state to take part.”
“We intend to present documentary videos of last year’s massacre showing the use of banned weapons such as phosphorus gas.”
Two months ago the Tahrir Youth and 6 April movements filed a complaint before the prosecutor-general asking for Hussein Tantawi, the head of SCAF, to be questioned over the ruling military’s involvement in attacks against peaceful demonstrators.
“We also intend to cast a spotlight on the behaviour of the Muslim Brotherhood during the Mohamed Mahmoud massacre,” says activist Ahmed Douma. “The group was solely focussed on monopolising the spoils of the revolution. They were far too busy with plans to grab the levers of power, through the parliamentary elections, to lift a finger to help the martyrs.”

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