By Omnia Al Desoukie
CAIRO: Twenty-nine youth and rights groups called on Egyptians Tuesday to revolt against the “tyrannical” military that killed peaceful protesters and burning state-institutions.
To counter statements made by the ruling military council a day earlier, representatives of groups presented numerous videos and accused the council of ordering the clearing of a three-week-long peaceful sit-in outside the Cabinet.
The crackdown that started on Dec. 16 left at least 12 dead as clashes continued for the fifth day Tuesday.
In a press conference on Monday, General Adel Emara, member of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), insisted that no order were given to disperse the sit-in and that soldiers only acted to protect the public buildings and exercised self-restraint.
During Tuesday’s press conference, speakers claimed the army soldiers were ordered to throw rocks at protesters from the rooftops of the government buildings and to burn others to ignite intimidate Egyptians in general and protesters in specific.
The press conference, held at the Sawy Culture Wheel, featured testimonials by protesters, doctors and lawyers, describing the attacks and killings.
Activist Lina Megahed said that she witnessed the death of a 19-year-old engineering student in a raid by security forces Tuesday at dawn. She raised a shirt drenched in blood and a bullet hole.
“He was killed by a bullet, marked by the words ‘Arab Republic of Egypt’,” she said.
“I raised these two [shirt and bullet] in front of the Egyptian army and asked why? But they shot live ammunition back at us and people pulled me away.”
According to the Ministry of Health, there were no fatalities in Tuesday’s crackdown.
An engineering student was transferred to the hospital in critical condition after a bullet went through his back and out of his stomach. The protester, Mohamed Mostafa, was in intensive care Tuesday evening, according to his family.
Attacks on doctors and women took center stage at the press conference.
“I told them that I am a physician, and that just as we are treating protesters there is a makeshift hospital on the soldiers’ side to treat them. But five of them attacked me and began to hit me on the head. A sixth was trying to stop them but he was unable to,” said Dr. Amr Salah, who kept on asking what exactly the soldiers were told to demonstrate such brutality.
Hassan Shahin, a journalist with the independent online news portal El-Badil, described an attack on him as he tried to save a female protester from a brutal beating. Videos and photos of the attack on this woman, who doesn’t want her identity revealed, have been at the center of local and international outcry over the targeting of women. Videos showed her beaten unconscious and stripped to her bra.
According to Malek Adly, lawyer at the Hesham Mubarak Law Center, 157 have been arrested since the clashes began, 45 of whom were teenagers between the age of 11 and 15. Now 123 detainees remain in custody at the Zeinhom Prosecution.
“We negotiated with the attorney general at the Court of Appeals to allow four doctors to treat injured detainees. Our female lawyers got hysterical as one man died in detention. We announced a sit-in and sent the attorney general a telegraph asking him to allow the doctors to check on other detainees. He agreed and the doctors asked to send 27 of them to the hospitals,” Adly said.
The lawyer complained from the lack of information about a female protester called Hend Nafie, who is said to be held at a military hospital. He added that an arrest warrant was issued in her name.
By Tuesday evening, Nafie was found and questioned at the South Cairo prosecution.
The organizers of the press conference screened videos of testimonials and footage of the security crackdown. One showed Aboudy Ibrahim, who was beaten to a pulp by the military and whose bruised and swollen face sparked the confrontation between the protesters and the military on Dec. 16.
Other videos showed army soldiers along with plain-clothed men throwing rocks on protesters and sometimes Molotov cocktails from rooftops.
“He always wanted to be a martyr but never thought it would be at the hands of the Egyptian military,” said Sheikh Emad Effat’s wife in the video. The Azhar sheikh, known for his support for the Jan. 25 uprising and subsequent sit-ins, was shot dead on Dec. 16.
At the SCAF press conference Monday, Emara blamed protesters for provoking the soldiers, adding that poor children were paid to attack the military and burn the historic scientific complex building, Institut D’Egypte. Emara screened footage of teenagers “confessing” of being paid to do so.
“Those children were arrested on Dec.14 in a fight, and all of a sudden we found them in SCAF’s videos and forced to say what you have listened to. We reported that to the prosecutor general and the investigations are taking place right now,” said Gamal Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, speaking on behalf of lawyer Tarek El-Ewidy, representing the teenagers in question.
Adly said that he learnt of an order from the Ministry of Interior to send any arrested street children to Zeinhom court to be charged with rioting against the army.
Activist Ahmed Eman said he saw a picture of the corpse of a homeless boy he knew named Yasser published in a newspaper where he was described as a thug.
“He was just watching what’s happening between the people and the army,” Eman cried.
One of the videos screened on Tuesday countered claims by Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzoury on Saturday that no excessive violence was used. Another video showed footage of military vehicles running over protesters on Oct. 9. Twenty-seven mainly Coptic protesters, were killed that day.
“SCAF, you breathe lies. Leave,” activist Karima El-Hefnawi cried into the microphone.