Friday, January 29, 2016

The revolution is dead; long live the revolution


General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi whose coup overthrew Egypt's new government

Five years ago this month, with a rush of joy, Egyptians threw out their oppressive military dictator Hosni Mubarak. Just two years ago, some Egyptians were still proclaiming that their revolution could not be repressed, even as the military reasserted its power to overthrow an elected president.

This month, Helmi Al-Asmar asks Did the 25th January Revolution die under torture?

Speaking on a well-known Egyptian television channel sympathetic to the regime (the opposition has no such access to the media any more), [Egyptian lawyer and human rights activist Negad El-Borai] said that the judgement against two national security officers accused of torturing lawyer Kareem Hamdy to death is an example of how judges show “compassion” towards state officials while ordinary citizens face harsh sentences. ... According to El-Borai, the court has sent a message to the torturers within the interior ministry that, basically, they needn’t worry about what they do ...

“Better than nothing” sums up the story of the revolution, which may have died under torture, or may be clinically dead waiting for someone to wake it from its coma, which may take some time. Egypt is back to square one just five years after the revolution. ...

... Information gathered by international human rights organisations shows that the number of those killed due to torture and medical negligence in Egyptian prisons since the coup on 3 July 2013 is much higher than the official figure of 350; in any case, the statistics do not include those who have simply “disappeared” or whose death has not been recognised. The reasons given for death include electric shock, severed body parts, broken bones and the failure of the authorities to provide medical attention. Sometimes it is claimed that the prisoner has “committed suicide”, as happened on Tuesday when a member of the Muslim Brotherhood detained in Abu Hammad Prison was said to have killed himself. The number of those dying under torture has hit a record high, not only in Egypt, but also around the world.

All or most of those who wrote about Egypt’s 25th January Revolution have admitted, in one way or another, that the country is back to square one. It is as if there was no rebellion; as if Egypt did not hear the chants of “We are all Khaled Saeed” in memory of the young man from Alexandria who died after being tortured by the police. At that time, the interior ministry said that he died as a result of swallowing a bag of hashish. This sparked-off the revolution and inspired the rebels. Today, five years later, the Egyptians do not know whose name to use instead of Khaled Saeed, there are so many candidates who have also died under torture.

I am certain, though, in the midst of such darkness, that nations do not die even if their revolutions are in a coma; there will be a sudden awakening. We do not know when, but the reasons for having a revolution in the first place still exist, on top of which there are even more. The people require a revised and intensified revolution which protects them from oppression and being seized and killed under torture.

Perhaps, but when and how do ordinary people live in the meantime?

Far distant observers cannot pretend to really understand the complex politics within other peoples' countries. But we should not allow the US government to get away with funding this repression either. The Obama administration has shoveled military aid to Egypt's usurping generals for more than a year. These deals with devils never end well.

Do either of the aspiring Democratic presidents have anything to say about this? In the Wapo, David Ignatius is applauding Hillary Clinton for encouraging Obama in 2011 to back half-measures while Egyptians demanded that Mubarak had to go. The Prez opted instead to give Mubarak a verbal push. Hillary does label Egypt's current government "an army dictatorship." Her campaign website says nothing that I could find about policy toward that torturing regime. Neither does Bernie's.

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