Egypten: ‘We are in the shit. The Dark Days’

Sandmonkey, også kendt under sit rigtige navn Mahmoud Salem, er et af de mennesker, der bedst forstår dynamikken i det oprør, der har præget Egypten det sidste års tid. Han har blogget mod diktaturet i mere end et halvt årti, og har i samme periode været aktivt involveret i politisk modstandsarbejde, for ikke at tale om efterspurgt af Mubaraks hemmelige politi. Ved det nys overståede valg stillede han op til parlamentet, men tabte.

Sandmonkey er ikke optimist, i modsætning til Hossam Al-Hamalawy, som vi citerede forleden, og som er det på længere sigt. Mahmoud mener, at den egyptiske revolution er inde i en mørk, makaber fase, som kuldslår og lammer de aktivister, der kæmper for et bedre land. Folk har begået fejl, der er svindlet med valget, og militæret er ikke sene til at udnytte situationen:

My helplessness reached its peak when my friend S. came over two nights ago, and she was not alright. Fighting to release the thousands that are getting military tried over the months has been a draining crusade for her, and it only got worse the moment she got involved in trying to ensure that the death reports of those killed in Mohamed Mahmoud do not get forged, which meant she had to be at the Zeinhom morgue the night those bodies would come in, surrounded by wailing families and crying loved ones, seeing dead bodies after dead body come in, and almost getting arrested by the authorities that didn’t want her stopping the cover-up. She told me after wards that she now sees those dead bodies everywhere, and she can’t escape them. But that night, 2 nights ago, she had just come back from Tahrir, where a man , standing inches away from her, ended up getting set on fire due to an exploding Molotov cocktail. She could see the fire engulf him, the smell of burnt flesh and hair, his agonizing screams for help. She was silent. Very calm and silent. She was sitting next to me and I couldn’t reach her, and all I could do is hold her without being able to tell her that things will be alright. How will they be alright exactly?

I haven’t written in two months. Two months I have spent running for parliament, stopping my campaign to run around all the field hospitals in Mohamed Mahmoud and ensuring they are well supplied, to losing the election and heading to Suez to lead another one, one that I managed to “win”. The things I have seen, on the street, I do not wish on anyone. One day I will write about that experience, but not today. Today, allow me to take you into my fragmented mind a bit. I have been silent, I have been tied up by advisors over what you can and cannot say during an election. This is over. The elections, for me, are over.

One of the biggest mistakes of this revolution, and there are plenty to go around, was that we allowed its political aspects to overshadow the cultural and social aspects. We have unleashed a torrent of art, music and creativity, and we don’t celebrate or enjoy it, or even promote it. We have brought the people to a point where they were ready to change. To change who they are and how they act, and we ignored that and instead focused all of our energies in a mismanaged battle over the political direction of this country. We clashed with the military, and we forgot the people, and we let that small window that shows up maybe every 100 years where a nation is willing to change, to evolve, to go to waste.

The parliamentary elections are fraudulent. I am not saying this because I lost- I lost fair and square- but because it’s the truth. The fraud happened on the hands of the election workers and the Judges. People in my campaign were offered Ballot boxes, employees and judges in polling stations were instructing people who to vote for and giving unstamped ballots to Christians in polling stations where they are heavily present to invalidate their votes, and the Egyptian bloc has about half a ton of correct ballots- ones that showed people voting for them- found being thrown in the streets in Heliopolis, Ghamra, Shubra, Zaitoun, Alexandria, Suez and many other districts. The amount of reports of fraud and legal injunctions submitted against these elections are enough to bring it all down and have it done all over again. Hell, a simple request for a vote recount would be enough to expose the fraud, since the ballots were thrown in the street.

What you see as a campaign manager is very different than what you see as a candidate, especially when you are a campaign manager in Suez. To make a long story short, in the 10 days we were there, this is what went down: We had one of our campaign workers fall victim to a hit and run “accident”, a campaign operative getting arrested by the military police at a polling station for filming the army promoting the Salafi Nour Party (with a big banner carrying the Noor Party slogan being placed on the side of an Army Truck) and his film confiscated of course, our campaign headquarters got attacked with molotov cocktails by thugs sent by a “moderate” islamist centrist party (hint: It’s not ElAdl) , the hotel we were staying in got repeatedly attacked by thugs till 3 am, with the army platoon leader protecting the Hotel informing me that if I don’t resolve the situation, he will “deal violently” with those outside and inside the hotel, the Leader of the 3rd Egyptian Army calling us looking for me, the Chief of Security for Suez doing the same thing, Lawyers and thugs working for a semi-leftist party filed police reports against us claiming we hired them and owed them money when we didn’t, and the other campaign manager finally going to deal with the situation, ends up getting arrested, and the two campaign members that were with him were left outside under the mercy of groups of thugs, and we managed by the grace of god get them all out unharmed and we escape Suez while Trucks filled with guys with guns going around Suez looking for us.

Why would the military be “helping” the Salafi Noor Party get votes? Well, mainly because they invented them. It was a match made possible by State-Security, who probably alerted the military of how reliable were the salafis in their previous “cooperation” to scare the living shit out of the population into submission and supporting the regime. Remember the All Saints church attack, the one that happened this New Year? Remember the documents proving that our very own State Security had arranged it to take place to force the Coptic population to support Mubarak? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. Only on a higher level.

Ovenstående er kun uddrag af en deprimerende fortælling om, hvor Egypten måske også er på vej hen. Som om nogen vidste det. Men læs endelig det hele, hvis du interesserer dig for udviklingen i Egypten (og dermed hele den arabiske verden) i disse år.

Link: Underneath (via Beirut Spring)

Free Mohamed Radwan

3arabawy skriver:

Radwan injured in the forehead by birdshot

My friend Mohamed Radwan has been detained in Syria, and is facing accusations fabricated by the Syrian security services that he is some Israeli spy. Please help spread the word. He is facing the risk of torture and ill treatment in Syrian custody.

Så typisk for de fremmede regimer at finde “fremmede” syndebukke for deres egen befolknings vrede. Lad os håbe, Mohamed Radwan og alle andre, der er fanget i de syriske myndigheders “operation syndebuk” hurtigt kan slippe fri igen.

Update: Der er nu en Facebook-side, hvor man kan følge sagen.

Update, 2: New York Times har en glimrende gennemgang af sagen.

Foto: Mohamed Radwan såret af skud fra haglgevær på Tahrir-pladsen 20. januar, af Hossam El-Hawalawy.

Mere om Flickrs censur af egyptiske SS-folk

Medlemmer af det egyptiske hemmelige politi, hvis primære opgave var/er at slå ned på regimets politiske modstandere.

Disse billeder er nu online igen, ikke takket være Flickr, som ikke turde modstå et ganske givet politisk pres for at tage dem ned. Du kan for eksempel se dem her eller her.

Selv om projektet med at udstille Egyptens torturbødler går flere år tilbage, kom disse konkrete billeder (i modsætning til, hvad jeg skrev i det sidste indlæg) fra sidste uges storm på det hemmelige politis hovedkvarter i Cairo.

Hossam El-Hamalawy fortæller:

When we stormed State Security Police headquarters in Nasr City, which hosted one of Mubarak’s largest torture facilities, on Saturday I found two DVDs in one of the offices, both titled “أرشيف السادة ضباط الجهاز” The Agency Officers’ Archive. The DVDs included profile pictures of State Security officers, organized in folders. Each folder had the officers’ name. Some however did not have the names. There were also sub folders that included pictures of those officers in social events like weddings.

I don’t know what was the purpose of these two DVDs, but I sincerely thank the State Security officials who gave us this present on a golden plate. I’ve uploaded the profile pictures to this flickr set and added them to the Piggipedia. I urge you all to circulate them. And if you have any more information about those officers please come forward.

Each member of SS has to be brought to justice. This was an agency devoted to spying, surveillance, torture and murder. Every member of this organization from the informer all the way up to the generals should be prosecuted. SS has to be dissolved. It cannot be “restructured” like what the current PM is calling for.

Although those torturers violated our private lives on a daily basis, bugging our phones, offices, and even our bedrooms, I will respect the privacy of their families and will not publish the photos of their social events that included family members.

Dear SS, yes you had every right to be worried from the Piggipedia. We will expose you, bring shame on you. You forced millions of Egyptians to live in fear and terror. Now you have to answer for your crimes.

Kan Flickrs beslutning om at censurere forsvares med henvisning til deres retningslinjer, som de selv gør? Nej, mener den mangeårige Flickr-bruger Thomas Hawks – det er rent hykleri:

This is one giant cop out on Flickr’s part. Flickr knows that Flickr is *full* of photos that are “not a member’s work.” In fact Flickr staff themselves routinely upload photos to their own personal photostreams that are “not their work.” For example, is this Flickr Maps screenshot of a Rev Dan Catt photograph really Flickr Chief Matthew Rothenberg’s own work? What about this screengrab of an AOL advertisement? Is this Rothenberg’s “own work?” How about this screengrab of a Valleywag page? While I suspect that this “flickrhq masturbating dinosaur award for excellence in the field of community abuse and advocacy,” is in fact Rothenberg’s own photograph, his own stream, as well as the streams of many other flickr staffers are full of photos that are not “their work.”Withdrawing Arabawy’s photos of suspected torturers by citing a technicality that the photos were not “his own work,” is disingenuous. The photos were pulled because Flickr was pressured to pull the photos and chose to respond to that pressure rather than to take a stand for freedom. Flickr knows that Flickr is chock full of photographs in photostreams that are not a members own work and this act on their part simply points to another act where they have selectively applied one of their rules to suit their needs using their overly ambiguous Community Guidelines as justification. Flickr should apologize to Arabawy and restore his photoset.

Men det kommer jo nok ikke til at ske. Og så er det godt, at vi har Anonymous og andre grupper, der ikke ryster nær så meget i bukserne som Flickr og de andre Web 2.0-dinosaurer.

Web 2.0-fail: Flickr bortcensurerer dokumentation af egyptiske Stasifolk

Wanted Egyptian Stasi Pig

Den egyptiske blogger og aktivist Hossam El-Hamalawy har i efterhånden årevis samlet billeder af egyptiske Stasifolk – medlemmer af det berygtede sikkerhedspoliti, der som deres vigtigste opgave har haft at udpege og nedkæmpe regimets modstandere, og det med ganske ubehagelige metoder – på sin Flickr-konto.

Den slags synes Flickr imidlertid ikke, at deres “pro”-konti skal bruges til, for nu har El-Hamalawy fået dette brev fra dem:

Brev om censur af billeder

Det lyder jo meget tilforladeligt med begrundelsen om, at man kun må have billeder, man selv har taget – eller gør det? Masser af mennesker lægger billeder, de ikke selv har taget, på Flickr, og det sker der næsten aldrig noget ved. Man aner, at det må være politisk motiveret – at Flickr nok synes, det er hyggeligt, at folk bruger siden til at lægge feriebilleder og den slags op.

Som El-Hamalawy selv gør opmærksom på: Billederne blev taget ned “because of ‘copyright infringement'”. Men der har næppe været fremsat noget krav om en sådan krænkelse af ophavsretten, eftersom billederne var bidraget af folk, der gerne ville have dem frem. Der er snarere tale om en politisk motiveret “proaktiv” censur fra Flickrs side.

Moderselskabet Yahoo! synes også, det er fint nok at angive folk, der engagerer sig i kampen mod et diktatur som det i Egypten eller Kina – men hvis nogen bruger deres tjeneste til at dokumentere et dikatorisk regimes overgreb , kommer de pludselig i tanker om reglerne.  Det er ærligt talt skammeligt og udstiller svagheden i det “nye” Internet – de meget store og centrale sider som Amazon, Google, Facebook og Flickr bliver også til et “single point of censorship”, hvor Censur 2.0 let kan få alt til at forsvinde fra de få steder, folk læser.

Men var den egyptiske sikkerhedstjeneste overhovedet så slem, at den fortjener at blive udstillet, dokumenteret og sammenlignet med Gestapo, SS og Stasi?

Ja, skriver Issandr El Amrani i den egyptiske avis Al-Masry Al-Youm, under overskriften “This is more of a revolution than you think“:

There were worse dictatorships, yes, but the problem was not simply an aging, authoritarian president, his ambitious son and his corrupt entourage. It was that, for the sake of regime preservation, a sprawling security apparatus collected information on citizens, manipulated them, cajoled and threatened them, humiliated them. State Security did not just, as its role should have been, keep tabs on possible terrorists and criminal networks. It ran Egypt on a day-to-day level, super-imposing itself onto the regular bureaucracy, acting as an intermediary.While ministries shuffled paper and red tape, state security kept tabs on people. This goes beyond the issue of torture, which it certainly practiced abundantly, or the racketeering, blackmailing and other schemes its officers carried out with impunity. What those who gained access to its offices discovered is that, much like the Ministry of Transport might keep an inventory of its buses and trains, State Security maintained an elaborate database on citizens, the threats they represented, their weaknesses, relationships and other every little detail of their lives.

This process that had its own chilling logic, reminiscent of the “banality of evil” Hannah Arendt chronicled in Nazi Germany, Andrei Almarik in the Soviet Union, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in East Germany, or Ariel Dorfman in Pinochet’s Chile. What it boils down to is that a vast bureaucracy existed simply to perpetuate itself and those in charge. Consider the neat categorizations of the population–“Muslim Brothers”, “Communists and human rights activists,” etc.–or the recent allegation that the Ministry of Trade paid a monthly retainer of LE174,000 to its own state security watchers to get them to write positive reports.

Whatever counter-terrorism and other legitimate roles State Security played, this must have been a relatively minor part of what it did: most of its resources were dedicated to the humdrum task of keeping tabs on those Egyptians who, for whatever reason–wealth, political opinion, media influence, foreign connections–posed a potential threat to the regime.

Flickr-gruppen Piggipedia er endnu ikke fjernet, men det er givetvis kun et spørgsmål om tid. El-Hamalawy opsummerer selv situationen således:

And once again, @flickr you should b ashamed. The only people u made happy tonight r police torturers. Way to go.