A year ago, only those looking closely realized that huge cracks were developing in the facade of stability maintained by the West, and echoed, in the Middle East, by the ageing dictators who had helped preserve the status quo for decades. Only those looking closely heard about the mobilization of workers in North Africa to protest against the stagnation of their economies, or realized the full impact of the sacrifice of Greece at the altar of the neoliberal Euro project.
A year ago, hints of unrest emerged in the UK, when an “age of austerity” implemented by the Conservative-led government, who couldn’t even hide their delight at being presented with an opportunity to destroy the British state under the pretence of slashing the deficit, met with resistance, in large numbers, from the students and schoolchildren whose futures were being sold off.
By early December, however, when Parliament approved the government’s proposals to triple university tuition fees, and to end all state support for arts, humanities and the social sciences, the students capitulated, and went home instead of staying on the streets. That lesson ultimately played a part in feeding the Occupy Wall Street movement that established itself in New York two months ago, and then spread across America and around the world, but the true inspiration for change were the people of Tunisia and Egypt, who, last January, mobilized in huge numbers, and, unfazed by the risk of death at the hands of the security forces whose sole purpose was to protect the dictators from the people, overthrew those dictators — first, after 24 years, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, who ran away from Tunisia to Saudi Arabia, and then, after 30 years, Hosni Mubarak. Read the rest of this entry »
Since protestors in Egypt inspired the world back in January and February, risking their lives — and sometimes losing their lives — in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt to topple the hated Western-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak, and to demand fundamental political change, I have not devoted as much time as I would have liked to following up on the Egyptian story.
I reported with great pleasure the extraordinary invasion of State Security buildings in March, when torture cells and shredded documents were discovered, as Mubarak’s torturers fled, and in June and August I reported how former Guantánamo prisoner Adel al-Gazzar, who had returned to Egypt from his temporary home in Slovakia, was, sadly, imprisoned on his return. I also reported the first day of the trial of Hosni Mubarak, which enabled me, for the first time, to note how Egypt’s revolution had been hijacked by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mubarak’s former allies, who took over when he was toppled, but who have proven unwilling to manage a swift transition to democracy, and, along the way, have held thousands of unjust and largely arbitrary military trials — more, ironically, than took place under Mubarak.
In picking up on this story that I have sadly neglected, I am delighted to cross-post a call for international support from activists in Egypt (published on the website, No Military Trials for Civilians), who, as the Guardian explained last week, have “called for an international day of action to defend their country’s revolution, as global opposition mounts towards the military junta.” In their statement, “appealing for solidarity” from the worldwide Occupy movement that has followed the example of the Egyptians and “taken control of public squares in London, New York and hundreds of other cities,”the Egyptian activists point out that “their revolution is ‘under attack’ from army generals,” and that they too are fighting a 1 percent elite “intent on stifling democracy and promoting social injustice.” Read the rest of this entry »
Photos of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s 83-year old former dictator, lying on a gurney in a prison cage as his trial began in Cairo today, may well be amongst the defining images of the year, along with the giant circle of protestors in Tahrir Square, which dominated broadcasts in February this year, and led to Mubarak’s fall from power after nearly three decades running the country with an iron fist.
As the Guardian reported, Mubarak “stands accused of economic corruption, striking an illegal business deal involving gas exports to Israel, and the unlawful killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising against his reign,” and could face the death penalty if found guilty. However, as he entered a not guilty plea, stating, “I deny all these charges and accusations categorically,” the sight of the former dictator, lying down in white prison overalls, behind the bars of the courtroom cage in which so many of his former victims once stood, was a powerful symbol of how even the most seemingly impervious tyrants can fall from grace.
Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who are also charged, were also in court, where they too protested their innocence, and others are also facing similar charges — specifically, former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly and six of his senior police deputies. Read the rest of this entry »
Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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