Friday, February 25, 2011

Army Uses Force (Batons and Tasers) Against Protesters in Cairo, #Egypt (Just like Police in US)

Back in Egypt, demonstrators are back in #Tahrir Square, demanding purging of Mubarak loyalists from the government and reminding the new "interim" rulers that they are there to serve the people.

The army officers who moved into the square hid their faces behind the black masks, according to a protester who was in the square. He also says there is no more unity between the people and the army.

Not a good sign, but not the end of the world either. It's all learning experience for both sides, particularly for the people.

On the other hand, maybe I should extend my welcome to the Egyptians: Welcome to the same reality as in the US, where peaceful protesters and ordinary citizens of all ages minding their own business can get beaten up, tasered, or attacked by a high-tech sonic weapon by the police and the national guard. And that's become more of a routine, business as usual for the police in the US in the past 10 years, and acceleratingly so in the past 2 under Obama.

From Al Jazeera (2/26/2011):

The Egyptian army has used force to disperse activists gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand the removal of Hosni Mubarak loyalists from the interim cabinet.

Egyptian soldiers fired in the air and used batons in the early hours of Saturday to disperse the crowd, the Reuters news agency reported.

Demonstrators had also gathered in front of the parliament building in Cairo, where police beat protesters and used tasers to suppress the crowds, an Al Jazeera producer in the capital reported.

The people had gathered to celebrate two weeks since the removal of Mubarak from power and remind the country's new rulers of their promise to guard against a "counter-revolution" of the people's power.

Activists urged the military, who had promised there would be "no return to the past" of the Mubarak era, to overhaul the cabinet.

But after midnight, protesters said the military fired in the air, shut off lamp posts and moved in on protesters to force them to leave the square.

"Military police used batons and tasers to hit the protesters," Ahmed Bahgat, one of the protesters, told the Reuters news agency by telephone. "The military is once again using force. But the protesters have not responded."

Protesters left the main centre but many had gathered in surrounding streets, another protester, Mohamed Emad, said.

Witnesses said they saw several protesters fall to the ground but it was not clear if they were wounded or how seriously.

"I am one of thousands of people who stood their ground after the army started dispersing the protesters, shooting live bullets into the air to scare them," Ashraf Omar, a protester, said.

Black masks

The army officers who moved in on protesters in Tahrir, donned black masks to cover their faces to avoid being identified by protesters, Omar said.

Military buses were parked in the square to take in protesters that were caught, Mohamed Aswany, one protester who had decided to stage a sit-in, told Reuters by telephone.

Protesters were heard yelling and shouting as they were chased down side streets to Tahrir.

"It is a cat-and-mouse chase between the army and the people," Omar said. "There is no more unity between the people and the army."

"They were using tasers and sticks to beat us without any control. I thought things would change. I wanted to give the government a chance but there is no hope with this regime," Omar said.

"There is no use.

"I am back on the street. I either live with dignity or I die here."

Protesters say they want the resignation of the government of Ahmed Shafiq, the immediate release of political prisoners and the issuing of a general amnesty.


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