CAIRO: October 9, Maspero march attacked: 27 dead. November 19-24, Mohamed Mahmoud clashes: more than 40 dead. December 17, Cabinet sit-in dispersed and ensuing clashes: 17 dead.
“These three consecutive massacres show the escalation in the level of oppression and crime by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] against the people and against activists…from the army,” said Ramy Shaath, member of the Free Egyptian Movement.
Relations between SCAF and activists have soured over the months after repeated deadly crackdowns on peaceful protests, leading to demands that the military council swiftly hand over power to a civilian authority. SCAF assumed power in February after Hosni Mubarak stepped down and initially promised to hand over power after six months but later prolonged the transition timeline.
SCAF generals have repeatedly said that no live ammunition is used against protesters and that security forces exercise “extreme self-restraint” when dealing with citizens.
Activists and protesters, however, tell a different story of the deadly clashes.
“Alongside this was the blunt deception by state media and some private media which relented to the military’s threats; thus the people have been denied the right to know the truth about what really happened,” he added.
A few days following the Cabinet clashes, the Revolutionary Forces Alliance, which includes 20 parties and movements, decided to take to the streets with documented evidence of the army crackdown on protests.
Volunteers of the campaign called ‘3askar Kazeboon’ (or Military Liars) use videos and pictures of violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters and sets up street screenings in districts around the country.
“Polls show that the majority of Egyptians do not know the truth and another majority believes in the ‘third party phenomenon’ and the smear campaigns against activists or peaceful demonstrators who are calling for their rights,” said Shaath, who is a member of the Revolutionary Forces Alliance, which founded the Kazeboon campaign.
“We had to go to the streets and approach these people and show them the truth,” he added.
The campaign consists of volunteers who go to different neighborhoods around Egypt to publically screen videos of violence by army officers and security forces, thus countering the military council’s version of events, propagated by state media outlets.
Kazeboon’s complied footage shows security forces’ use of live ammunition, the stripping and beating of female activists as well as targeting field hospitals, presenting the story of what happens on the streets through vivid and shocking images.
Their aim is to quell the conspiracy theories about the violence stemming from an unknown foreign-funded third party, and sometimes facing criticism or opposition from the area’s residents.
At a screening near CityStars in Nasr City this past week, passersby young and old watched on in astonishment. “I can’t believe they got arrested people out of their cells to testify on television that they were told to go burn buildings,” said Amal Mahfouz, a 46-year-old housewife, referring to people who testified on state television about burning the Scientific Complex in the bloody aftermath of the Cabinet sit-in dispersal.
According to the Kazeboon video, these same people were arrested days before the events broke out.
“Every time we see people’s reaction, it motivates us. These people have long been denied the truth and they are curious to know,” said Shaath, adding that SCAF is using the same strategies and tactics as the Mubarak regime.
But showing videos of brutality by security forces on the streets is not always an easy task. The Kazeboon screenings and marches have repeatedly been threatened or attacked, the most violent of which was recently on Gameat El-Dowal Street in Mohandiseen.
They are now more prepared, Shaath said. “First, two or three of us used to go down, but now we go in teams of 20 or 30 people to set up and we have a rope cordoning off the space.”
They also coordinate with the neighborhood’s residents to ensure their protection.
Two days after the Gameat El-Dowal viewing was disrupted, they held another one which was successful and was followed with a march chanting against SCAF.
“The screenings now include three parts: the Kazeboon video, the Mosireen video and the third is a video of injustices this specific area has been subjected to,” said Shaath. For example, in Sayeda Zeinab they recently showed videos of martyrs from the area killed during the January uprising.
The Kazeboon campaign has gone global with screenings held in the United States, Paris, London, Rome and Canada.
“The spiral of silence has been broken and we will not be afraid to expose them for what they really are,” Shaath said.