Protests in Istanbul following the massacre:
Monday, May 31, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
On 28 April Ahmad Ezz, appearing on Christiane Amanpour’s CNN show, spoke with pride of the demonstrations staged daily in front of parliament by “good Egyptians.” He went on to remark that the image of Egypt “stifling dissent… with no freedom of expression, is far from the mark.”
Sunday 23 May, proved claims of the Egyptian regime’s stifling dissent to be right on the mark.
The morning started with escalations by the workers of the Amonsito factory. Their union representatives were due to meet with Minister of Manpower and Immigration Aisha Abdel Hady and General Union head Hussein Megawer at 10am that morning.
What was to be discussed once more was the government’s backing out from a deal singed on 21 March between Bank Misr, the government’s Ministry of Manpower and Immigration and the worker’s union. Following the signed agreement the government-owned bank backed reduced the agreed upon amount of LE106 million to be paid out to the 1700 workers, to LE50 million.
Over the past week the workers have been progressively escalating their acts of protests in an attempt to get the government and the passers-by attention.
Sunday morning the workers were using whistles, chanting and beating the barricades the police uses to cage them onto the sidewalk. The deafening noise could be heard multiple streets away, drawing the attention of anyone in the vicinity. On Friday, some of the workers ripped their clothes and wrote message of dissent on their bodies.
Their calls of protest have reached a new level of urgency.
On Sunday the messages on their bodies and torn clothes included, “the thieving government,” “I want my rights.”
Around 1pm the union representatives returned from the parliament building with bad news. The head of the General Union and Manpower Minister had stood their ground and would not return to negotiate the original 21 March agreement.
After the announcement of this news, the workers tried to enter the gates of the parliament upon which security forces encircled them. When some of the workers managed to break through the barricade, the forces attacked them with wooden sticks, beating them severely and then arrested seven of the workers.
Minutes later many of the workers had dispersed all over town, Ragab Khidr was taken to a nearby hospital having loosing consciousness after security forces beat him over the head. Khidr later received stitches to his head.
Security forces did not spare Amonsito union head Khaled al-Shishawy, who also received multiple blows to his body. While showing me his wounds, he explained, “security forces faced us, the officers beat us up with their batons, we kept trying to hold back their blows.”
The representative of the 1700 workers went on, “we’re not leaving even if they shoot us. May they detain us all and put us behind bars.”
Four hours later security had forced all the workers away having threatened them with further use of violence and without having released the initial seven kidnapped workers.
The government-aligned Radio Misr station announced later that day that the workers had gone home, after having come to an agreement with the government.
Just a few minutes walk away from the Amonsito protest site, security forces forced similar sit-ins of the Nubariya and the Helwan Telephone Company from their sites of protest.
Al-Shishawy ended his statement saying, “I hope the world knows what democracy is like in Egypt, we are only asking for our rights.”
NDP parliamentarian Ahmad Ezz will have to drive to work tomorrow on streets cleared of protesters.
For the workers, the government spokesman’s words have never rung so hollow.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Leading the crowd is the 14-year-old daughter of the union leader.
In the heat of the day, about 30 workers from the Amonsito textile factory huddled under the shade of a tree.
“We are not workers, we are rejects,” the factory union leader Khaled el-Shishawy, who is known simply as sheikh Khaled said.
The workers returned after government officials and the crediting bank shirked responsibility on an agreement signed 55 days earlier.
Before returning 12 days ago, sheikh Khaled told me, “If we return to our sit-in, it won’t be the same as last time. Things will be different.”
More pictures of the workers' sit-in here.
Kareem el-Beheiry was 20 years old when he first took part in a labor strike in December 2006.
"I didn't know what a strike was," said el-Beheiry, the Mahalla Textile Factory's first blogger.
The next day he saw a scene that changed his life. "I saw a woman crying in front of a TV camera, saying she could not feed her kids."
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The intolerable conditions of people in both Greece and Egypt is a direct consequence of the failures of capitalism and policies of neo-liberalism. Both in Greece and Egypt the governing authorities are reducing public sector funding in various spheres, like education, health and services, with the stated aim of "reform."
For the people of Greece the economic decisions taken by their government representatives has translated into a "financial crisis" that is causing widespread suffering of the population. In response the government is again punishing the people of Greece by imposing large-scale public spending cuts.
For the people of Egypt, though there is no report of a "financial crisis," consistent government spending cuts and privatization has also translated into suffering and thus a crisis in every sense of the word. All across the country workers have been holding sit-ins and strikes to protest miniscule government salaries and the illegal actions of privatized factory owners. In Egypt investment is on the rise, but the profits are not "trickling down" to the working class as promised.
We call for the governments of Greece and Egypt to re-shaped their economic agenda to prioritize the needs of people over the profits of investors.
Today, on the streets of Egypt we stand in solidarity with Greek protestors and affirm your stance against capitalism and the tyranny of governments that impose it.
The workers of Al-Mahalla
The workers of Tanta Flax and Oil Company
The Real Estate Tax Collectors' Independent Union
The Socialist Studies Center
The Workers Preparatory Committee