Sunday, 20 February 2011

Revolution from below

THE Tahrir occupation was a shining example of grassroots organising in action, says an in-depth account on the Reports From the Egyptian Uprising blog.

It recalls: "Occupiers set up community barricades, crewed by both male and female volunteers, complete with piles of rocks to use as weapons in case of attack.

"Medical clinics were set up staffed by volunteer doctors and surgeons.

"Hundreds of tents and shelters were erected around the square, rubbish collection was organised and food was distributed.

"At night the occupiers slept in front of the tanks surrounding the square to prevent the army from entering.

"The Egyptian revolution was leaderless and self organised, the seven demands formulated by the Tahrir Square occupiers were: Resignation of the president, the end of the State of Emergency, the dissolution of parliament, the formation of a national transitional government, to elect a Parliament that will amend the Constitution to allow for presidential elections, the immediate prosecution for those responsible of the deaths of the revolution’s martyrs and the immediate prosecution of the corrupt and those who robbed the country of its wealth.

"On the 11th February, the day after the largest protests yet and widespread strikes across Egypt, Mubarak, after an initial show of defiance, announced that he would step down and retire to the resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

"Power was handed over to the ominously named Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and parliament was dissolved. The army has promised to amend the constitution and facilitate free elections.

"They have, however, called for a return to normal – for an end to the strikes and to political protest. Tellingly, the Supreme Council refused to rescind the State of Emergency until ‘calm’ was restored.

"Jubilation gripped Egypt. The Egyptian people who have lived most, if not all, of their lives under Mubarak’s rigid military dictatorship had successfully shaken off the dictator.

"But the question is what will happen now? On Sunday the army removed the protesters from Tahrir square.

"The fact that the army prevented cameras and reporters from recording the eviction, thus continuing the media blackout and repression of free speech of the Mubarak regime should act as a warning.

"The Egyptian revolution, like the Tunisian uprising, is ongoing; strikes have been held by everyone from airport staff, public transport workers and nurses in Cairo to workers in the sweatshops of Mahalla al-Koubra and Mansoura to oil industry employees.

"Egyptian banks, briefly reopened last week remain closed and the stock-exchange lies dormant.

"The demands of the strikers represent the other side of the Egyptian rebellion, a call for an end to corruption, for better wages and for lower prices."