Saturday, May 21, 2011

100 days of the Egyptian revolution: Voices from within

"The revolution was a great human achievement .It means people are willing to die for freedom and justice. When you participate in a real revolution you become a much better person. You are ready to defend human values" 
Alaa  al-Awany
100 days have passed since uprisings by the Egyptian people caused the overthrow of Hosni Mubarek, the Egyptian dictator and friend of the West. But there is growing concern within Egypt  that a counter-revolution is taking place with old regime military loyalists consolidating power with army support.

The  UK Guardian has published   a series of articles from prominent activists within Egypt offering their views on the current situation.

Egypt's most celebrated writer Alaa al-Awany warns of a counter revolution by the army who is using the threat of unrest and violence by so called thugs and criminals as justification for ongoing repression.

Heba Morayef is an Egyptian based researcher for Human Rights Watch writes that torture and imprisonment by the military remains rife. Morayef describes how protestors and activists involved in the uprisings continue to be arbitrarily imprisoned.

Hossam al-Hamaalaway is a prominent Egyptian journalist, blogger and activist who writes of the resentment and anger within Egyptian society about the neo-liberal policies that have impoverished people. He argues that what is needed is socioeconomic  aqnd workplace reform- giving people decent salaries, protecting their rights and improving their economic lot. His blog is here

The piece below is extracted from his latest article:
The revolution was against the Mubarak regime but all we've managed to do so far is remove Mubarak himself. The ones running the country right now are Mubarak's generals, who were the backbone of his dictatorship from day one.

Many are therefore disappointed with Egypt's progress – me less so because I never had high expectations from an army takeover. But two things have changed in Egypt in the past 100 days which give me hope, and both relate to the fact that the revolution is unfinished. The first is that mass strikes are continuing. The second is that workers have taken the step of establishing independent trade unions, which I believe are the silver bullet for any dictatorship..................................

But the main part of any revolution has to be socio-economic emancipation for the citizens of a country; if you want to eliminate corruption or stop vote-buying then you have to give people decent salaries, make them aware of their rights and not leave them in dire economic need. A middle-class activist can return to his executive job after they think the revolution is over, but a public transport worker who has spent 20 years in service and is getting paid only 189 Egyptian pounds a month – you can't ask this guy to go back to work and tell his starving kids at home that everything will be sorted out once we have a civilian government in the future.

So this is phase two of the revolution, the phase of socio-economic change. What we need to do now is take Tahrir to the factories, the universities, the workplaces. In every single institution in this country there is a mini-Mubarak who needs to be overthrown. In every institution there are figures from the old state security regime who need to be overthrown. These guys are the counter-revolution. Maybe the counter-revolution isn't clearly organised with a specific command structure, but you have to assume that everyone who belonged to the old regime and enjoyed privileges under it is going to try to defend those privileges, and much of the malaise you see around you in Egypt today is down to that.

There is huge resentment within the Egyptian working class about the neoliberal policies that have impoverished them over the past 20 years, and the struggle for change will be a dramatic one. No doubt the western powers and Arab monarchs who are already deeply unhappy at what they see taking place in Egypt will be even more dismayed at this. But however much pressure they put on the military junta, the pressure of the street can be stronger. The Egyptian people are vigilant about their own revolution.

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