Egyptian activists react to army’s dire crackdown
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Egyptian protesters stand on top of cement blocks forming a barrier set up by the military to block the road and separate army troops from protesters, near Tahrir Square. AP photoWorldwide reactions increased against Egypt’s ruling military council’s harsh tactics against the protestors in Tahrir Square. Political activists said security forces confronted protestors in the square with a deadly crackdown simply because they expressed their anger against army rule.
Egyptian security forces fought opponents of army rule in Cairo for a fourth day yesterday and the United States, worried by the violence, urged the generals to respect human rights, Reuters reported. Medical sources said the death toll had risen to 13 since Dec. 16 when clashes erupted. Hundreds have been wounded.
Hundreds of protestors returned to the square yesterday morning after security forces retreated behind barricades in the streets leading to parliament, the cabinet office and the Interior Ministry. Security forces erected another cement wall on a street adjacent to Tahrir Square, near the Institute of Egypt, a historic building housing priceless archives, many of which were destroyed in the latest violence, AFP reported. The institute for the advancement of scientific research contained more than 200,000 precious documents.
Young people were seen yesterday gathering burnt manuscripts and books in an attempt to salvage what they could.
Egyptian political activist Deena Jamil said protests in front of the cabinet building have been going on for three weeks but deadly violence started when the army decided to end the protests.
“These are revolutionaries who are against the policies of the military council. They are not affiliated with any political party or group in Egypt. As a political activist, I don’t agree with them but they have the right to protest because they feel anger toward the policies of the military council. However, the army and security forces are dealing extremely violently with them,” Jamil told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview yesterday. Aliaa Hamed, an Egyptian journalist, said the activists were protesting for more freedom. “Treating them in this violent way is not legitimate at all, even if they are believed to be provoked by some other forces; they could be arrested instead of using that much violence against them,” Hamed told Hürriyet Daily News.
Council accuses the rioters
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the “excessive” force used against the demonstrations that have widened a rift among Egyptians over the role of the army and cast a shadow over the country’s first free election in decades. Meanwhile, Egypt’s ruling military council claimed yesterday it had uncovered a plot to burn down parliament, AFP reported. Gen. Adel Emara, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, interrupted a live news conference to say that he had “received a call now that a plot was uncovered today to burn parliament and there are large crowds in Tahrir Square ready to implement the plan.”
Former President of Cairo-based Sadat Academy for Administrative Sciences Hamdi Abdelazim claimed the protestors were collaborators with the past-Mubarak regime authorities who are in prison right now. “I know some people among the protestors who are in touch with the past Mubarak regime who want to prove that the revolution has failed and the Mubarak regime was the best for Egypt,” Abdelazim told Hürriyet Daily News.
The violence overshadowed the count in the first post-revolution vote that showed Islamists in the lead and prompted calls for restraint from the U.N. and the U.S.