Well, I don’t have the whole picture, but I was there the day before, on the 24th of June and I can at least explain what I heard and understood.
PS: I have NOT done any fact-checking, I’m telling you what I was told and showing you the footage and photos I shot. You may consider plausible or probable or logical whatever you choose. Personally, I wouldn’t be bothering to write this if I didn’t believe that nobody in their right mind would prefer to live with their kids, in the heat, under attack, on the street at Maspero.
So it goes –
There were 3 main groups of demonstrators, as well as various activists (call them what you will – activists, bloggers, tweeps, citizens with both conscience and time, nas fadya, whatever) – who were there in support of one, some, or all the protests. I belonged to the latter group, make of that what you will.
The People From Madinet El Salam (Salam City)
These are a group of protesters representing about 1300 families that were ‘persuasively evicted’ from their homes in the throes of the revolution, during which time, they say a rumor had spread that people in rented flats would get to own them, and to which some landlords had reacted in force.
The Madinet El Salam protesters have been there the longest. Some of those even said they were among the protesters at the Council of Ministers (maglis el wozarah) building on the night of the 25th of February, when the army or perhaps it was the military police, to be more precise, used electrical batons to disperse the over-night protesters in Tahrir. Anyway, they have been kicked out of their homes, and taken to ‘temporarily’ stay at what is effectively a hot desert-y location, in tents, with their families; wives and kids. So, over a thousand families living in tents, with access to about, well, yes – one toilet apparently.
Promises have been made, nothing is happening. The most hideous side to this story are reports that at least 2 people have died drowning while resorting to using the nearby Nile, and a story (again, I cannot confirm) – about a young girl who had been hit my a car, lost use of her legs, then was approached to shut up in return for an apartment or money, etc – according to the story I was told, she rejected all such offers, saying that a solution must be provided for all 1,300 families, after which she was murdered.
The Chicken Deal
On this day – the demo was joined early in the morning by around 20 trucks loaded full with empty plastic chicken crates. They belonged to a group of around 200-300 protesters who said that their payloads (a truck-full of chickens) were confiscated by the authorities for having bird flu – but that the authorities would then just sell those chickens to the market for profit.
The oddest thing I heard (once I got past how silly the phrase chicken-stealing-pigs was) was that in many of these cases, they are carrying chickens from army owned and operated chicken farms. So, they reason – how could the police confiscate army chickens (yes, I’m loving this) based on them having Bird Flu? Is the army then being accused of raising and distributing diseased chickens?
The People from Deway’a.
This is the group I know the least about – basically because the people that I was speaking to from Salam City were quite annoyed at the presence of the Deway’a people and were explicitly disassociating themselves from them. The explanation I was given was that most of the Deway’a problem had been resolved, and that this was a minor problem. There was some resentment towards them from the Salam City crowd who said that they (SC-Peeps) are the ones who’ve been there, getting attacked, lost lives, for the longest, and that their position/place was being diluted/hijacked. They felt that they were competing with them for attention, basically. So you’ll have to get the full Deway’a story elsewhere, sorry.
The Families of the Martyrs.
This group hardly needs any explanation. We, and they far more than we could possibly imagine – have lost much to this battle, and must not be forgotten. Whereas most people who have not lost a direct family member or friend will focus on what must be gained in return for the blood spent – many of them (justifiably so) are focused to the service of Justice – and want to make damn sure that a penal price must be paid by the murderers who killed their loved ones.
It takes just one brief imagining of how you would feel if you had lost a brother, a friend, a son, or a daughter – to understand the rage they must feel when they see that justice isn’t being carried out. To this date, off the top of my head – I can say this – Mubarak has not been served a sentence, Adly has not been served a sentence, 13 officers who had been specifically accused of killing protesters walk the streets – well, perhaps the darker shadows of it, unharmed. We know that in their feeble attempt to throw the people a bone, they sentenced a police officer of low rank, as though that would somehow appease any of us. We know that to this day – more than a year later – there has been no sentencing for the men who killed Khaled Said.
So there you have it – that’s pretty much what I can tell you about Maspero…
The chicken protesters have left – but the families of the martyrs are still there, looking for Justice – and the Salam City protesters are still there, hoping they can find roofs and beds for their families.
You can view some of the photos I took here –