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Egypt

By: Khan Yasir

L B W

axity of the world

razenness of the army

ill-Power of the people

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.


(Hal Borland)

oday, the law of jungle prevails in Egypt which has been the cradle of human civilisations since 10th millennium BC. Life there is a stark contrast with the euphoria that was generated in the wake of Arab Spring and the fall of Dictator Hosni Mubarak. Disciples of Mubarak are back to haunt the nation as elected President Mohammed Morsi is still under house arrest. Scores of Muslim Brotherhood leaders too are behind bars. As we know, it all began with General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi who toppled the democratically elected government and suspended the constitution in a coup on 3rd July 2013.

Enraged by popular discontent and fury that erupted throughout the Egypt in shape of protests, General Sisi in Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Square bettered the record of General Dyer in Jallianwala Bagh. In fact, Dyer offers no comparison, the brutality and brazenness that Sisi and his armed forces flaunted on 14th August after storming through protest camps and slaying thousands indiscriminately, is actually unparalleled. Though authorities insist that death toll is only 638, independent observers are giving the figures of around 5,000 including scores of women and children. More than 10,000 are reported to be wounded. The struggle is still going on and so are the casualties. World: silent or sadistic? If international reaction to the coup and massacre was anything to go by it is more than an established fact that we are living in world of hypocrites. Lets begin with the superpower of the world, United States of America, the upholder as well as the exporter of peace, liberty and democracy. John Kerry Secretary of State of USA had earlier remarked that the coup was restoring democracy. After pogrom of 14 August, he found the events only deplorable and a real blow to reconciliation efforts. Reconciliation with whom? And for what purpose? Would Kerry advise the United States to reconcile with Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno if he chose to rebel and depose Obama in a coup?

Not to be left behind, Obama announced cancellation of the Bright Star joint Egyptian-American military exercises as his reaction to the massacre. Dr. Ahmed Aref, Muslim Brotherhood media spokesman, was not impressed. He divulged the open secret, The US played a prominent part in the July 3 traitorous military coup in Egypt. Now attempts are being made to exchange roles on the international stage.

In his statements from the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has appealed to both sides to resolve the violence. In a statement EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said: We reiterate that violence wont lead to any solution and we urge the Egyptian authorities to proceed with utmost restraint. He said further, Violence and continued political polarisation will further tear the Egyptian economy apart. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the use of force. China has also called for restraint and dialogue. In this regard the response of many gulf countries, and especially Saudi Arabia, took many of their wellwishers by a shocking surprise. In a statement issued to Al-Jazeera, King Abdullah is reported to have called on Arabs to stand together against attempts to destabilise Egypt. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its people and government stood and stands by today with its brothers in Egypt against terrorism, he said in a statement read on state TV. How I wished that the honourable king meant the rebellious Egyptian army butchering people when he uttered the word terrorist and calling people to stand against it! But my whims were shattered when I recalled that his government had pledged $5 billion in aid to Egypt after Mohammed Morsi was ousted from the presidency last month. Amr Darrag an engineer who also served briefly as Egypts minister of Planning and International Cooperation in his article Egypts Blood, Americas Complicity (New York Times, August 15) has taken this hypocrisy of world-powers by horns. He wrote, Worse, shocking and irresponsible rhetoric from the State Department in Washington and from other Western diplomats calling on the Brotherhood and demonstrators to renounce or avoid violence (even when also condemning the states violence) has given the junta cover to perpetrate heinous crimes in the name of confronting violence. The protest sites have been teeming with foreign correspondents for the last several weeks, and there has not been a shred of evidence suggesting the presence of weapons, or of violence initiated by protesters... The mediators most disastrous error was their choice to put pressure on the victims. In their eyes, we were the cause of the crisis, not the illegal putsch that suspended the Constitution and kidnapped the president. However in the world of selfish national interests in the name of diplomacy there are a few human voices. If compared to other countries, France and Germanys reaction was better. President Hollande of France and Germanys foreign minister Guido Westerwelle have personally summoned respective Egyptian ambassadors to express their concerns and register their protest on the massacre. However, voices like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Tunisias Rashid al-Ghanouchchi are rare. Since 3 July, Erdogan is calling for the UN and the Arab League to act immediately: I am addressing the international and domestic media which for hours relayed the legitimate use of pepper spray by the police in Turkey, and for days broadcasted provocatively from Turkey. How many innocent civilians have to die before they see what is happening in Egypt and broadcast this? After massacre he further said: Those who ignore the coup and dont even display the honourable behaviour of calling a coup a coup, or any international organization that remains silent and takes no action, has the blood of those innocent children on their hands, just like those who carried out the coup. He also thundered, At this stage what right do you have to speak of democracy, of universal values, of human rights and freedoms?

Rashid al-Ghannouchi in a statement issued by An-Nahda Party on the 14 August itself strongly condemned this crime against the people of Egypt and its revolution and also condemned the grave violations against women, children and other peaceful civilians. He went on to express its complete solidarity with the Egyptian people and their right to regain their freedom and their rejection of the overturning of their will. He also called on all Egyptian, regional and international parties to assume their responsibilities in ending this terrible crime and supporting the Egyptian peoples struggle against the coup. Meanwhile many people are thinking that award of Nobel Prize to erstwhile Vice-President of Egypt Mohammed El-Baradei was either a kind of joke or a big mistake. However El-Baradei is taking his Nobel credentials very seriously and despite being an open supporter of this coup resigned from the interim government in the wake 14 August massacre, I cannot continue in shouldering the responsibility for decisions I do not agree with and I fear their consequences. I cannot shoulder the responsibility for a single drop of blood, he said in a statement. One wonders why he didnt resign after the earlier massacres of 8th and 27th July? Wasnt that violence in his dictionary? What are the reasons for his resignation now? I think he has had some kind of premonitions regarding the failure of the coup and success of the people and their will-power!

Army of the Pharoah Amr Darrag, in his article mentioned above, also castigates General Sisi for his penchant for betrayals. He argued that Sisi ...took an oath to uphold the Constitution; he suspended the Constitution. He took an oath to loyally serve in the government; he toppled that government. And in the classic doublespeak of military juntas, he loudly condemned the opposition for dealing with foreign powers, while he was actively seeking the help of Western diplomats as well as the Persian Gulf sheikdoms that largely financed his coup. A month after the coup, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in an interview with the Washington Post was found blaming the instability on the White House, saying: You left the Egyptians. You turned your back on the Egyptians and they wont forget that. He claimed his officers had no choice but to depose the government, saying: I expected if we didnt intervene, it would have turned into a civil war. What he did not say but definitely meant was: a war on citizens is better than a civil war.

This war on citizens he waged on thousands of peaceful protestors who would not have imagined that the sun of their life will set at the dawn of 14 August 2013. These protestors have earlier faced the wrath of the army during Ramadan. Many were killed even then while praying and fasting. But massacre of 14 August was special in its brutality. They were shot to be killed in their heads and chests. Their camps were bulldozed or burnt while women and children were still inside seeking shelter from the effects of teargas. The people running for shelter were fired upon by snipers deputed for the task. Bullets were continuously fired from helicopters as well. Even journalists, especially photographers, belonging to different countries, were beaten, arrested, harassed and killed. Snipers were also deputed to shoot at the hospital entrance gate. Teargas bombs were thrown from helicopters around the hospitals making the air inside impossible to breathe. Hospital staff had to wear gas masks to work. The inhuman forces also prevented ambulances from taking wounded protestors to nearby hospitals, after the field hospital saturated with dead bodies and protestors with horrific burns and excruciatingly painful injuries. A critical care physicians personal account is heart rendering. In the wake of massacre he was working at the hospitals treating the throng of injured protestors. He mentioned hugely alarming numbers of horrible injuries. He described the hospitals six-story building as well as the adjacent halls that were completely full with corpses and injured protesters. He noticed that most of the live bullets were in the upper half of the body, mainly in the head and the neck, with consequent lethal wounds. He saw patients with their heads blown out and their brain matter on the floor. Listen in his own words what happened next. He recollects, At 5:00pm, a snipers bullets targeted the hospitals door once again, destroying it completely. Then, the sounds of gunfire became very intense and close Ten minutes later, police officers broke into the hospital. They looked huge with black special-unit uniforms, and wielded huge guns that I had never seen before. They ordered everybody to evacuate the hospital. We wondered what we had to do with hundreds of injured inside who were still alive and whether we could trust those officers. However, soon we were rushed right out of the hospital building. As I left the hospital, I told one of the officers that there were many injured people inside. He shouted in my face let them die, let them die! He then walked towards me with his huge gun with ferocity and intent, trying to attack me. Fortunately, I managed to escape through the hospitals smashed glass door and the vicious officer got busy with others going outside the opposite section I walked into nearby streets, worrying I could be shot or arrested. However, the army and police were apparently too busy with some remaining protesters inside the sit-in encampment. I looked behind and saw huge plumes of smoke rising after officers burnt the hospital with everybody still inside: the dead corpses and the injured ones who could not leave the hospital. I will never forget the last look of a 15year old nephew of a wounded man, the last case I dealt with: the man had been shot in the head but survived and came into the hospital accompanied this young nephew. I intubated him, leaving his nephew to help him. While going outside, I saw the helpless looks of this young boy beseeching us, seeking any help for his uncle. Most probably the uncle was burnt alive in the hospital. Im not sure what happened to that young boy. The atrocities of the army did not stop at killing a protestor, it went beyond. The families of the slain protestors are having a hard time in getting a coroners report and a burial permit which the

government is persistently refusing to issue. The families are enforced to give statements that their murdered family members died not from armys bullets but due to natural causes or have committed suicide. An eye-witness Mustafa reported that, There were hundreds of corpses in the mosque and only two doctors to issue the necessary reports. Bodies lay in the mosque in Egypts scorching August heat, and soon the smell of death reached the streets. People had to purchase and use ice-blocks to preserve the bodies. Mustafa who went to collect the body of a friend told if it wasnt for his deceased friends family members sitting for hours and bringing along a lawyer as well as many relatives and friends to pressure the doctors they wouldn't have been successful in getting the real coroner report. Defiant people The night of tyranny is very dark for Egypt but the valiant people who are braving the rain of bullets and teargas shells believe that even on the darkest, rainiest days the sun is still there, just behind the clouds, waiting to shine again. Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders are detained, including Essam El-Erian and Mohamed ElBeltagy, whose 17-year-old daughter was earlier killed. Families are worried to identify the bodies of their loved ones as there are so many bodies to look for. A protestor Tamer Magdy Shoaib a 40 year-old resident of Cairo and a father of three children was among several thousands of those who were martyred on the fateful day. On August 14, Tamers family tried for hours to contact him, but to no avail. His family members then went to Rabaas field hospital. Once there, they searched through hundreds of bodies but found no trace of Tamer. Then they were told to go in nearby Iman Mosque where too hundreds of bodies were lying. After several hours exertion Tamers family eventually found their son, a dead and bloodied corpse. Tamer was a brave man, he had four bullets in his body!

The critical care physician whom I quoted above also mentioned in his account that when he was leaving the field hospital to go to serve in another one, he passed through a huge hall which was filled with corpses of massacre victims, then through another hall which was filled with wounded protesters whose cases were not very severe. The not very severe was defined in his words as: they can survive for a few hours without close care; but in normal conditions, they would need surgical operations immediately. He mentioned that one among those injured, who had been shot in his leg, looked at him and said: Doctor! Why you stand like this? Please go and try to help some patient. This is the spirit with which protests are continuing amidst every possible kind of repression. After the crackdown of 14 August the military junta in Egypt had declared a month-long state of emergency. However, this emergency and the fact that thousands of protestors were martyred only on 14 August (Thursday) Muslim Brotherhood decided to celebrate the Friday (16 August) as Friday of Rage. The communiqu on their official website mentioned that despite what had happened they consider the struggle to overthrow the illegitimate regime an obligation an Islamic, national, moral, and human obligation which we will not steer away from until justice and freedom prevail, and until repression is conquered. While declaring further that their revolution is peaceful, and that they will continue to mobilize people to take to the streets without resorting to violence. They pointed out that violence and vandalism only aims at distorting the image of their peaceful revolt and finding justifications for the coup leaders to continue to govern. For Friday of Rage they gave 28 starting points (actually mosques) in Greater Cairo from where all the marches will eventually head to Ramsis square the new centre after Rabaa Al-Adaweya. Meanwhile, million-man marches will be held in all other Egyptian governorates. As could have been predicted given the shamelessness of the army exhibited so many times recently, the Friday of Rage too was coloured red with innocent blood of peaceful protestors throughout the country. The next day on 17th August in yet another inhumanly violent assault Egyptian army have cleared Al-Fath mosque (in Ramsis square) of protestors.

According to latest reports on BBC (updated 14:35 GMT on 18 Aug) Interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi has put forward a proposal to legally dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood. A proposal to ban Al-

Jazeera is also under consideration (it must be noted that many other publications and channels are already outlawed). Though there seems no end to the suffering of people, they are adamant. Bodily, they are tired and injured but their will is unconquered. Dr. Ahmed Aref, Muslim Brotherhood media spokesman declared for the world to hear, Egyptians alone will make the world respect their word. They alone shall impose their will and defeat the bloody military coup. Its high time that the world recognise the basic and fundamental issue involved which is that: giving a 48-hour ultimatum to an elected president; deposing him; keeping him under house-arrest; silencing opposition; and killing protestors IS NOT DEMOCRACY. The forces that are behind President Morsis ouster fear elections and democracy as they have lost continuously in that arena since the fall of Mubarak. These people, in no sense of the term can be accused of restoring democracy. History is moving fast in Egypt, angels are busy in carrying pious souls to their heavenly abode, but the demand of justice and fairness remains the same. In words of Amr Darrag this demand the only way out of the crisis is as follows, The legitimate government must be restored. Only then can we hold talks for a national reconciliation with every option on the table. The reinstatement of Mr. Morsi is not about ideology or ego. It is not political grandstanding. It is not a negotiating tactic. It is a pragmatic necessity. Without this crucial step, without accountability for those responsible for the bloodshed and chaos facing Egypt today, none of the promises of inclusion, democracy, liberty or life can be guaranteed.

(A slightly different version of this article has been published in Radiance Viewsweekly 25 August 2013)

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