An account of the army crackdown on Tahrir

I received this email about last night's events in Cairo's Tahrir Square, when army and security forces crackdown down on protestors who had set up camp in the square. There is still a lot of confusion about what happened, with the army claiming that thugs from the NDP had attacked the square and claiming it intervened to disband them. Activists say this is untrue. Reuters reported (and here's an updated version of that same article) that the army intervened against the protestors after curfew, firing shots in the air. The videos at the bottom of this post have the sound of a lot of gunfire, but there have been no reports of wounded or casualties to my knowledge (Update: Reuters says 2 dead, 15 wounded @11am). David Dietz also has an eyewitness account of the night, including brutality, in this post.

Another night of army brutality, nearly 1500 protesters were spending the night in Tahrir square tonight including 30 army officers that joined the demonstrations today and remained with the demonstrators throughout the night.

The demonstrations today April 8th and the sad morning of the 9th stressed those main two demands:

  1. The immediate trial of Mubarak, the dictator that has not yet been touched, still operating in his luxurious mansion in Sharm, given the time to transfer and move the stolen funds and creating with his presence a major sense of disappointment, encouraging his followers to keep the pressure on the nation and keeping his system intact, igniting the counter revolution.

  2. The need of a civilian council to lead the transitional period, since the revolution did not appoint the army, specially that the army council is still protecting the old regime, and acting as if it dictates the future with no consultation with the nation, hiding all necessary information regarding the old regime’s foreign policy, security apparatus and monetary situation and funds, denying the nation its right to know and to dictate its future and discourse.

At 3.20am, a huge number of army special forces (sa3ka) , military police and central state security (amn markzi) supported by 20-30 army armored vehicles and tanks stormed the square, thousands of rounds of ammunition have been used, soldiers beating and attacking the civilian demonstrators , some of them were families with children.

Many were injured and others got arrested and many others dispersed running for shelter in the roads around were the army had forces surrounding the main entrances, many ran to hide in buildings in the area.

The shooting continued till 5.20 am, off course everybody in the garden city area and down town area were awaken by the shooting sounds, and went to their windows and balconies to check it out , some got their window, or balcony ceiling or A/C shot at, in an attempt to scare them back inside.

Around 4am, the army seemed to be setting up the scene for their own spin on events. After they dispersed the protesters we saw them go into the square, break chairs and tables, and other items, basically destroying items , burning banners and tents and then we saw them step away from the broken items and bringing in their own camera and actually taking footage (not sure if it's video or photography) of the broken items. The footage they're taking shows only broken items and NOT the army personnel in the process of breaking them. This seems to be their attempt to set up their spin on things - what we expect is that they will use this footage to try to portray the protesters as violent thugs who broke chairs and various other items to use as weapons or that the protesters were just vandalizing things, etc.

Meanwhile, protesters were chased all the way to Midan Talat Harb, many injured are hiding in Omar Makram mosque. Others were hiding in the ally of Omar Afandi. Few families were dispersed including children missing their parents.

By 4.30am protesters started regrouping in Talat Harb and pushed army forces back to tahrir with stones and barracks shouting the people wants the down fall of the marshal tantawi (al sha3b yourid isqat al mousheer).  And by 5.30am demonstrators regained Tahrir square.

It’s 6.30am now there are few burned vehicles and a fire in the museum garden.

Also the sit in, in front of the Israeli embassy on the Gam3a Bridge was attacked brutally.

Tens are arrested including the army officers who joined the demonstrators, tens of injuries in addition a very soar (sic) feeling of despair and a lot of anger is building up.

Videos of tahrir during parts of the attack:

2 Comments

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.