CAIRO: Twenty-four homeless families protested outside the Cairo governor’s office Sunday, against the demolition of their homes, while government officials denied they had any right to the disputed land.
The two-month ordeal of the residents of Al-Elew village in Helwan dates back to October when the authorities claim to have given them eviction notices.
The protestors, however, say that they were only officially informed of the government’s decision when bulldozers arrived outside their homes on Oct. 17 accompanied by 20 state security trucks.
“At 5am security forces broke into our houses and ordered us to leave immediately, Neamat Samir told Daily News Egypt.
According to Samir, three months before the evacuation, rumors circulated that the government was planning to confiscate the land.
The area was to be allocated to building a water desalination plant.”It is illogical that a water station will be built beside a cement factory, when there is a bigger empty space on the other side, one protester said.
“At that time we received no official notification. But the police threatened the men not to resist any possible evacuation orders. They held my father and others for a few days in custody, said Samir.
“When my husband heard this news, he had a heart attack and died one day later, the woman said crying.
The villagers insisted on staying on their land, spending cold nights on the ruins of their demolished homes.
“We are like refugees in our homeland. We lead an inhuman life with our children falling sick and threatened by snakes and insects, an old woman, Fawzya Ahmed, shouted bitterly.
“The husbands stopped working to stay and protect their wives and children after they had been harassed by outlaws, another woman said.
Most of the people living in the area have irregular jobs, working as street venders or farmers.
While the protesters showed official documents proving their ownership of the land, officials produced other documents alleging that the protestors already have other homes in the village, and accusing them of fraud.
“Nineteen families were offered alternative homes, while police investigations revealed these 24 families had not been living on this land and own apartments in the same village, Cairo Governorate’s assistant Secretary-General Ahmed Kamel said in an ad hoc press conference following the protest.
But protestor Neamat Samir alleged that the detectives who came to the area to investigate “were sitting on a nearby café while conducting the investigation.
Monday’s protest ended when a woman fainted and was rushed to hospital.