The mask has slipped
Statement by the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists…
Only a short while ago, Major General Fangari saluted the martyrs of the revolution and melted Egyptians’ hearts with the memories of the days they spent chanting that the army and the people were “one hand.” Today, he delivered another kind of message to the revolutionaries: threats to “take all necessary measures to confront the threats which encircle the homeland unless this questioning of the ongoing process ceases … as do the rumors and misconceptions, which lead to discord and rebellion and the promotion of the interests of a narrow minority over those of the country as a whole.” He called for honest citizens to work for the return of normal life for the children of “our great people”, and, while brandishing his finger in the face of the people like Mubarak, insisted that the armed forces will not allow anyone to seize power or override legitimate authority, except within the framework of legal and constitutional legitimacy.
Thus ended the speech, which came less than 24 hours after Essam Sharaf’s short statement, to confirm that the ministry Sharaf heads is nothing more than a mask designed to hide the ugly face of military rule. But over the last six months, the people have grown wise to this division of roles between the “good cop” of the Prime Minister and the “bad cop” of the representatives of the Military Council.
The revolutionaries’ position is that, this time, there will be no going back. We will occupy the streets until the demands of the revolution are met. This inevitably means justice for the martyrs who shed their blood in the squares of Egypt as the price of freedom. We will not settle for less than the fair and public trials of the criminals of Mubarak’s regime and the killers of the martyrs. We will not give up our demands for social justice and human dignity through the implementation of a decent minimum wage, humane working conditions and an end to the slavery of fixed-term contracts. We will defend our right to strike and occupy. These rights were not granted, but were won by the people through years of struggle in the streets; years that had the bitter taste of arrests, torture and prosecutions.
No law issued by the Military Council to criminalize strikes and occupations, and no punishments it imposes can take this right away from the free people. The military tribunals, which steal years from the lives of our young people, should have been reserved first for the deposed president in his capacity as former head of the armed forces, rather than enjoying the luxury of a civilian trial. Instead, he is protected by the Military Council, which one time postpones the court date under the pretence he is ill, and another spreads rumors of Mubarak’s impending death.
We are not “questioning the ongoing process”, rather, we are announcing that the process is slow and compromised in order to protect the killer police officers from justice. We are telling the world that ten thousand children of this country are locked up in military prisons after suffering the worst tortures. We know that the system is making the maximum effort to stop the people from regaining the wealth, which was looted from them over the decades. We know that only revolutionaries are brought before the military tribunals, while the killers enjoy trials in the civilian courts, with release on bail between sessions.
We are not “spreading false rumors” but spreading the truth that you are trying to hide; the truth that poverty and repression, torture and detention, are still everywhere after 25 January, just as they were before. We have only exchanged the state jails for military prisons; gained the military prosecutor in place of the state security prosecutor and swapped the military tribunals for the exceptional courts. The Emergency Laws were not enough for our military rulers: they added new laws criminalizing strikes and occupations in an attempt to clamp down on Egyptians’ freedoms.
The budget that the government promised us would be fair turned out to consist of cuts in spending on health, education and old age in order to fund the Ministry of Interior and the Army. The people’s interests are not “narrow”. The demands for a loaf of bread, for health care, education, housing fit for human beings, freedom of expression, the right to work and the achievement of justice are at the heart of the demands of the revolution. They do not compare to the narrow self-interest of businessmen and their associates, who are not content with plundering the people’s wealth. These people are terrified by the falling stock market, but unmoved by the blood of 1,200 martyrs or the fact that half the population lives below the poverty line … or that young people are losing years of their lives in prison. All they care about is that their bank accounts are still swelling and that they continue to drain the blood and sweat of the workers for as little pay as possible.
Finally, revolutionaries do not “seize power”: it is theirs by right. This country should be governed by those who shed their blood for it. If anyone has “seized power”, it is the Military Council and its supporters who were asked by no one to rule the country, but whole stole – or tried to steal – the revolution by force, taking advantage of the people’s euphoria over the overthrow of the dictator.
It seems as if the one who is shaking his finger and threatening the revolutionaries does not think they understand what it means to lose their children, not on the field of battle with a foreign enemy, but on the soil of their homeland, at the hands of police officers whose salaries were paid by their own taxes. He does not understand what happened on the 25th of January. On that day the people of Egypt rose up, determined never again to be enslaved, inherited or exploited. On the 25th of January, the Egyptian people regained their sense of dignity and confidence that they could overthrow the symbols of dictatorship. The head fell, leaving the corrupt body behind. The people swore they would not stop before the downfall of the regime: if not today, then tomorrow.
Glory to the martyrs. Victory to the revolution. Power to the people.