United National Antiwar Committee Emergency Appeal: Mobilize to Stop US-Backed Attacks on Egyptian Masses!
On January 28th we issued an appeal for all UNAC affiliates and supporters to turn out to last weekend’s demonstrations in support of the masses marching in Egypt for democracy and justice. Today we write in a follow-up emergency appeal for renewed mobilization to stop the murderous attacks going on today, February 2ndand likely to escalate in coming days.
On February 1st, two million marched in Cairo, a million or more in Alexandria, and hundreds of thousands more in towns and cities around Egypt. The response of Mubarak, after consultation with Obama, was to refuse to step down and to ignore ALL the demands of protesters.
Obama, in a speech two hours later, approved Mubarak’s stance, with duplicitous encouragement that he take some (unspecified) steps before the September elections, in which he pledged not to run.
As soon as the words left Mubarak’s lips, the millions in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, in Alexandria and elsewhere shouted their rejection of his speech.
Mubarak’s words were a clear indication that repression was imminent, and sure enough, almost immediately plainclothes police thugs began attacking protesters in Alexandria. This morning, February 2nd, the expected broader attack was launched in Cairo, as thousands more plainclothes police thugs attacked the masses in Tahrir Square.
Police mounted on horses and camels, armed with whips, began riding into the crowds. Other cops threw Molotov cocktails, rocks, stones and chairs from the roofs of buildings. Gunshots were heard in several locations. New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof reported that “mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs.”
Cops began beating protesters mercilessly, and thousands were wounded.
Meanwhile the US media began featuring interviews with rich Cairenes characterizing antiregime protesters as lazy, ungrateful workers who should go back to work and stop complaining about the price of bread!
So far the army has not moved into action, neither heeding the calls of protesters for protection against the cops, nor yet dispersing the protesters. But the head of the army has told people to go home, that after Mubarak’s speech the time for protest is over.
Needless to say Obama bears prime responsibility for this situation, as he clearly coordinated his speech with that of Mubarak – that is, Mubarak would say he wouldn’t run, then Obama would give back-handed blessing to that approach by calling for “faster” change but with no demands for release of prisoners, lifting of laws against assembly, free press, revocation of stolen election results, etc., etc.
Israeli officials have said they are rethinking their “security needs” in light of the possibility that a new government would reject collaboration with Israel’s policies.
But the people of Egypt are standing fast. They have pledged an even more massive march this Friday after mid-day prayers.
The Egyptian people have come too far to give up passively — which increases the likelihood that the regime will try to launch a massacre.
More solidarity protests are coming up this weekend. In New York alone there are protests today, Friday and Saturday. And a call has been issued for protests around the world on Saturday, February 5th.
WE ENCOURAGE ALL UNAC AFFILIATES AND SUPPORTERS TO ATTEND RALLIES PLANNED BY THE EGYPTIAN COMMUNITY AND TO INITIATE THEM WHERE NONE ARE PLANNED.
What’s more, as the revolution in Egypt and throughout the Arab world is clearly going to continue, we encourage affiliates to begin planning teach-ins on these events, and to work with local and national Arab groups in the US to discuss joint events up to and including the national marches on April 9th.
ADDITIONAL ACTION OPPORTUNITIES:
* Call the White House and State Department to demand complete withdrawal of all US forces in and around Egypt! [phone/email/fax #s here]
In mid-January, Connecticut newspapers reported that that state’s National Guard was sending an aviation unit to the Sinai Peninsula, supposedly as part of a regular rotation of about 1,000 US soldiers who are part of the Multinational Force and Observers stationed on the border between Egypt and Israel. Meanwhile Israel for the first time since 1979 “allowed” the Egyptian army to deploy 800 soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. Needless to say, in the current situation this dramatically increases the likelihood that soldiers from any or all of the three militaries could be used against protesters.
* Demand an End to Sale of Tear Gas to Egypt’s Army and Police!
Protesters in Egypt have exposed before the world media the made-in-USA tear gas canisters fired on them. Protests have already taken place at the tear gas supplier, Combined Tactical Systems of Jamestown, Pennsylvania, as well as at the private equity firm which bankrolls them, Point Lookout Capital Partners of New York City. (This is the same firm that supplies the tear gas canisters which have wounded and killed Palestinian protesters.)
* Recall Obama’s “special envoy” to Egypt!
Obama sent a newly-appointed envoy, Frank Wisner, to Egypt to coordinate the content of their speeches on February 1st. Wisner works for corporate law firm Patton Boggs, which boasts of its connections to Egypt’s top corporations. The choice of Wisner was no accident – especially as Mubarak’s dictatorship has served first and foremost over his decades in power to impose austerity demanded by Western corporations and banks and the IMF and World Bank.