Police violently crushes April 6 protest

Sarah Carr
6 Min Read

CAIRO: Police violently broke up a protest organized by the April 6 Youth Movement Tuesday, with reports of some 70 arrests.

The April 6 Youth Movement announced last week that it planned to stage a march to commemorate the day riots broke out in the Delta town of Mahalla on April 6, 2008.

The original plan was to march from Cairo’s central Tahrir Square to the People’s Assembly, a distance of less than 1 kilometer.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) had submitted notice to Cairo’s security forces alerting them that the demonstration would take place.

ANHRI subsequently published a note from security forces informing the NGO that the march had been banned.

In the note, the head of Cairo’s Security Directorate informed ANHRI that “permission for the march has been declined because such a march and demonstration would “disrupt public security.

A protest eventually formed outside parliament’s Upper House, the Shoura Council, where some 50- 60 protestors, chanting “Freedom were tightly encircled by riot police and plain-clothed policemen. There was a large number of female protestors in the demonstration.

One protestor interviewed by Daily News Egypt said that the protest was against the renewal of emergency law which expires in May.

Others described themselves as belonging to various groups; the April 6 Youth Movement, Al-Ghad Party, the National Coalition for Change and Kefaya.

At around 12:40 pm riot police began raising their batons and appeared to be hitting protestors. Plain-clothed policemen then began moving in and removing protestors one by one across the busy Qasr El-Aini road and taking them down a side street.

Daily News Egypt saw around 20 protestors removed within the span of roughly 15 minutes.

Nearly all of the protestors were dragged away from the protest, and some of them were slapped, kicked and punched as they were removed. Several men’s shirts were ripped off as a result of the force with which they were removed by groups of policemen.

Several journalists and onlookers had their mobile phones and cameras violently snatched from them, in an attempt to prevent people filming the violence.

The Front for the Defense of Egypt’s Protestors, a network created by lawyers who volunteered to assist protestors, lists the names of around 70 people arrested at three spots throughout Cairo.

Roughly half an hour after police started breaking up the demostration, pandemonium erupted as the rest of the protestors dispersed and entered the side street where detainees had been taken.

The police used violence to regain control, eventually herding the remaining protestors onto one side of the road before they were charged by a group of riot police who drove them into Tahrir Square.

“When we started to walk down Qasr El-Aini Street we were really hit violently. I fell on the ground and many members of security started stepping on me. They confiscated any mobile and broke cameras. They pushed us into the public garden outside the Mogamaa, where we were hit, Afaf Mamdouh, one of the protestors, later told Daily News Egypt.

“We were never hit like this before. There were also for the first time female police officers there, Mamdouh added.

“Their violence against us today is unconstitutional, but what made us so strong is the refusal letter from Ismail El-Sha’ar [head of Cairo Security Directorate] two days ago which is also unconstitutional since our Constitution allows us to organize peaceful protests, said Roaa Ibrahim.

Ibrahim said that protestors faced “fierce violence.

“They were kicking people and taking them into police vans, they hit and took away both men and women, Ibrahim added.

Another protestor, Yasmine Ahmed, said that this was the first time she had ever been to a protest and that she is not a member of any political group.

“I came because [I’ve had enough of what’s happening to this country]. Corruption is everywhere, there’s no education, water is polluted . I don’t want to make problems but they can’t exploit our respect [for the rule of law] this way. They’re not letting us speak. What are we supposed to do?

Another protestor, Mahmoud, said, “Mubarak is the cause of all of Egypt’s problems. We don’t want Mubarak.

University students around Egypt staged protests in what they called “Freedoms Day, demanding the amendment of articles 76, 77 and 88 of the constitution as well as freedoms inside campuses in student unions elections and political activities and lowering the prices academic books.

While protests at Cairo University, gathering around 50 students, went peacefully, Helwan, Beheira and Zagazig Universities reportedly witnessed clashes between security forces and protestors in which three students were injured.

Students carried banners and chanted slogans calling for freedom and attacking the interference of state security in university affairs. -Additional reporting by Omnia Al Desoukie and Tamim Elyan

For related multimedia content, please visit Daily News Egypt’s Youtube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/TheDailyNewsEgypt

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Sarah Carr is a British-Egyptian journalist in Cairo. She blogs at www.inanities.org.
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