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Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth, Middle East, Peace.

The democracy protests in Egypt will be critical. They continue although the numbers are down. The military appears to have resumed control.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports via AFP:

More than 1000 protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square vowed on Saturday to stay overnight in defiance of the military after a protester was killed the night before when soldiers dispersed a similar sit-in.

At least one person was killed earlier in the morning when troops and police stormed the iconic square to break up an overnight protest demanding the trial of former regime officials.

The health ministry said one person died, a figure later echoed by the army, and 71 people were hurt – some from bullet wounds and others suffering breathing difficulties or having been struck during clashes.

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Medics said two people were killed and 18 people wounded.

The fatality was the first in the square since it became the focal point for 18 days of protests that triggered president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation on February 11.

The army denied it was responsible for the fatality, saying no deaths were discovered when it cleared the square to enforce a pre-dawn three hour curfew.

Instead, four soldiers and nine protesters were wounded, said a military spokesman who vowed to clear the square of protesters who defied the curfew.

“Those who remain in the square will be dispersed,” General Ismail Etman told reporters. The warning was ignored by protesters in Tahrir, who chanted against the military.

“I’m not scared, I’m sad it came to this, but what right does the army have to attack us,” said one protester, Mohammed Abdel Al, as he prepared to take a nap on the square.

Etman defended the military’s actions the night before. “We did not use force; we did not beat anyone,” he said. Any protesters hurt had been hit with stones thrown by others, he added.

For his part, General Adel Umara said that after the army cleared and left the square in the morning, a large number of “protesters came … to Tahrir with two automatic weapons and Molotov cocktails, and they attacked three military vehicles.”

He did not explain why the vehicles were left behind.

“There was a death reported, unfortunately. An initial autopsy shows it was a bullet in the mouth,” the general said. He did not identify the fatality.

On Friday, tens of thousands had massed in the square calling for Mubarak and his cronies to be tried for corruption and criticising the military rulers for stalling on reforms in what was dubbed the “Day of Trial and Cleansing”.

Some were also demanding that 75-year-old Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s defence minister for two decades and the man who replaced him, also step down.

Several hundred camped out in the square overnight, and witnesses said soldiers, backed by riot police, fired live rounds, mostly into the air, and beat protesters.

The question in play here is not just liberation and democracy for Egyptians but the imperial prerogative that shelters the Saudi dictatorship, the smashing of the Iraqi state, and other crimes of impunity. So where does individual responsibility begin? As Julian Assange observes, on the same page, people are subject to fear. That is the reason, Glenn Greenwald suggests for the treatment of Bradley Manning. Those that have the courage of their convictions are few, but include, for example, Martin Luther King.


At Open Democracy, David Hayes provides a selection of views on the Arab Spring.



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