Monday, January 4, 2010

Final Day in Cairo

Late last night 2 of the MPT members headed out of Cairo with a third team member following this AM. Prior to their leaving MPT had learned through Code Pink organizers that an Egyptian youth led movement for socio-economic change had called for a protest on the steps of the court house. The organizers, known as The April 6 movement had asked for the support of internationals to stand with them. The protest was to be in support of the law suit by Ibrahim Yousri to stop the wall between Gaza and Egypt to block the tunnels.

A team meeting brought to light strong feelings about the need to support Egyptian civil society when asked. With that discussion in mind the team agreed that the remaining 3 MPT team members would attended the protest to document, observe and support as able.

MPT arrived on the scene to find a group of about a dozen young people from the April 6th movement at the courthouse. Other Eqyptians and Internationals were clustered around them and while the riot police were out in full force the mood seemed to be calm and tension was low.

One MPT member remained across the street from the action in order to document and monitor the situaiton from outside. The remaining MPT members walked past the line of riot police into the penned in area. Members of the April 6th movment gave short speaches and led chants that others circulating in the crowd translated for the MPT team. "We are one people. Our sisters, our brothers are on the other side of the wall. The wall divides families. Our international brothers and sisters are here with us. We are one people. We are one spirit. You may kill us but we will rise again in the people. You can't kill the spirit."

MPT remained at the protest lasted for about an hour and half at which point the organizers announced it was over and the group begin to trickle out. MPT members stayed toward the back of the crowd between the police and the organizers as everyone moved out.

According to Wikipedia The April 6 Youth Movement is an Egyptian Facebook group started by Esraa Rashid and Ahmad Maher in Spring 2008 to support the workers in El-Mahalla El-Kubra, an industrial town, who were planning to strike on April 6th. MPT members spoke with April 6th movement organizers at today's event who explained, that April 6th strike was the culmination of a powerful workers' movement with the workers of the Misr Spinning and Weaving company in Mahalla al Kubra at its heart. The movement was heavily repressed by the security forces, which shot and killed three youth and wounded dozens of protesters. Trade-union leaders and political activists were arrested, intimidated and tortured. Rather than break the spirit, activists united under the crack down and continue to work for "change in Egypt".

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