Egyptian Army role in revolution challenged in new Report.

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Its author, Maikel Nabil Sanad, arrested after publicizing his findings on the net.

Below is a summary of some of the main findings of his report. For the full report go to the War Resisters International website at: www.wri-irg.org

Note: Maikel Nabil Sanad, 25, lives in Cairo, and is a political activist and blogger. In April 2009 he founded the "No to Compulsory Military Service Movement". As a pacifist, he declared his conscientious objection to military service and demanded to be exempted from it. He was arrested on 12 November 2010, by military police, but released two days later, and finally exempted from military service on medical grounds. He participated in the Tahrir demonstrations from the start.

Following the publication of his report on line, he was arrested on 28 March 2011 by military police. According to his lawyer, Mr Haithem Muhammaden from the El Nadeem Centre, Maikel Nabil Sanad and detained pending an investigation on charges of "insulting the military institution and publishing false news about it" and "disturbing the public security.”

Summary

The Egyptian army did not at any point side with the protesters. They supplied live ammunition to police attempting to suppress the demonstrations, were involved in the arrest, detention and even torture of protesters both before and after the departure of Mubarak, and are seeking by various means to suppress or limit the scope of the revolution. Many people are continuing to protest, calling for a civilian council instead of the Supreme Council of the Armed forces.

The report identifies three stages in the revolution:

Stage 1: from the beginning of the demonstrations on 25 January 2011 until the army took over the streets on 29 January

The Egyptian revolution started on 25 January, 2011 when tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets. During the first four days of the revolution, the police forces brutally confronted the protesters, killing more than 500 of them and injuring over 6000. Another thousand are missing. What was the reaction of the army?

1. Sami Annan, the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian army visited the USA to assure the Obama administration that the Egyptian army remained loyal to Mubarak and it would not abandon him. (See full text for the evidence of this gleaned from the US news agency Startfor and the Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm.)

2. The army provided the police with bullets to kill the demonstrators. On 28 January, the police used tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber and live bullets to attack the tens of thousands of demonstrators who had occupied Tahrir Square. When the police ran out of ammunition, military jeeps moved through the crowds to supply the police with live bullets which they fired at the protesters. The military police intervened in this way a second time when the police again ran out of ammunition. In response the crowd set fire to two army jeeps, an armored vehicle belonging to the Armored Corps, and captured four tanks.

Stage 2: From 29 January until Mubarak announced he was stepping down on 11 February

From the early hours of Saturday 29th of January 2011, and after the demonstrators detained some of the tanks and burnt several jeeps the armed forces began to change tactics. Officers started speaking to the demonstrators, calming them, pacifying them. However, the new phase of the relation between the protesters and the army was based on managing the conflict through indirect mechanisms such as:

  • Blockading the protesters and preventing them from leaving Tahrir Square. During the first few days, the army stopped demonstrators from moving in the direction of the Ministry of the Interior and Parliament. However, during the last the last three days of Mubarak's rule, when the crowds in the square had become too large and determined to control, the army did not attempt to obstruct them from marching from the Square. This accorded with its policy of avoiding a direct clash with the revolutionaries.
  • Adopting a stance of passive neutrality whilst continuing to support the police and Mubarak thugs. The army issued many statements proclaiming it would protect the protestors. However, after the second speech of Mubarak on the night of Tuesday 1 February, the army stood by as thugs flooded the streets chanting for Mubarak to stay. They continued to do so during the following two days, when the thugs attacked the demonstrators with camels and horses, killing ten demonstrators and injuring over 1,500. The thugs were also allowed to climb buildings overlooking Tahrir square and throw Molotov cocktails at those below.
  • Using Egyptian Intelligence to try to persuade some politicians to appeal to the revolutionaries to leave Tahrir Square. A document seized at the state security headquarters in Nasr City when it was occupied on 5 March shows that a Major Khalid Mohamed Mohsen Sharkawy visited Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the Arab League, asking him to make such an appeal to the demonstrators. He subsequently did so, urging them to accept the terms offered by Mubarak in his second speech.
  • Arresting, abusing and torturing demonstrators, and raiding the offices of Amnesty International (3 February), the Heshm Mubarak Centre for Human Rights and other international human rights organizations, confiscating their files and arresting of their leaders.
  • On 30 January Malek Adly was arrested, so too on 3 February was the blogger "Sand Monkey" on his way –with medical aid- to Tahrir Square; a few hours later his blog was blocked. On the 4th of February, Wael Abbas, the blogger, and Maikel Nabil Sanad (author of the report) were arrested, and on the 6th of February the blogger Kareem Amer was arrested. Some estimates put the number of demonstrators arrested and held in military establishments during these two weeks at over 10,000. Those who were subsequently released told of the torture and killing of many other demonstrators by army officers and members of the intelligence service.

The document goes on to list a number of testimonies including that of the author who was subjected to beatings and sexual harassment after his arrest. It refers also to the report in the Guardian of 9 February by Chris Greal which cites human rights groups who state that the army was involved in detentions, disappearances and torture, and to an Amnesty International report (17 February) that included testimonies of young people who were arrested and tortured by the military police with whips and electric shocks.

  • Attempting to invade Tahrir Square. The army attempted on more than one occasion during the period 4th to the 10th February 2011 to eject the protesters from the Square. This resulted in many clashes between them. For example on the night of the 6th of February when the troops near the Egyptian Museum tried to move further into the square, they were halted by protesters forming a human chain. The army fired shots in the air, and arrested 3 protesters whose fate is still not known.

Stage 3: After Mubarak stepped down -From February 12 until the report was written in late March

After Mubarak announced he was stepping down, the army used the media to convey the message that it had joined the revolution, whilst doing everything to ensure its suppression, or at least hindering its progress. Among the steps taken were:

  • A ban on photography in Tahrir Square. The aim here was to isolate the rebels emotionally from the rest of the Egyptian people. So, when the revolutionaries were attacked they might start to feel they had been abandoned by their own people. And the wider Egyptian public, having no idea of the extent of the crackdown against protesters, might start to wonder why they were continuing to protest.
  • Manipulation and control of the media. Various means were used to this end. For example, on 15 Feb some officials in the higher military council held a meeting with the chief editors of newspapers and other media personnel and ordered that there should be no further discussion of Mubarak’s wealth. On 26 February major general Trek E-Mahdi was appointed general supervisor of the television and radio union, which means that Egyptian media is now directed by an army department.
  • Ordering mobile companies to send SMSs to people warning them against participating in sit-ins and encouraging them to oppose protesters.
  • Further violent attempts to clear Tahrir Square. On 14 February Many people were injured and taken to Qasr Al-Ainy hospital after the army succeeded in dispersing various demonstrations in the square. The army then published a statement warning citizens against demonstrating.

The report goes on to cite further instances of attacks by the army on demonstrators since the departure of Mubarak, and provides more testimonies of arrests, detentions and torture. It points out that the armed forces continue to enforce a curfew, and refuse to end the state of emergency. It concludes that although the army claims to have joined the revolution, it constantly tries to circumvent its demands and could exercise an undue influence on the provisions of the new constitution.

Read the full document at /node/12484

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Related peace activist(s): Maikel Nabil Sanad
Related peace activist(s): Maikel Nabil Sanad