The Revolutionary battle cry of the rag-tag Colonists included the words “the whites of their eyes” against the mighty British redcoat Army columns of 1776. Today the brutal Egyptian police forces under the supposed control of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces or SCAF, are taking this deplorable level of violence ‘a bridge too far.’ They are firing rubber tipped steel bullets directly at the eyes of protestors from rooftops and great distances with high powered rifles and using what appear to be expired tear gas canisters that are many times more potent than the CS gas used in previous protests.
Protestors have lost eyes, suffered horrific brain injuries and when exposed to this gas become so physically ill, some gravely, just inhaling it that it appears by many accounts to contain a chemical or nerve agent attacking organs and the central nervous system. Too, the police have used launching systems to strategically fire both beyond and in front of protestors to ensure they are completely enveloped by the gas forcing stampedes to flee and/or ensure they inhale a mixture so highly toxic it makes the UC Davis pepper-spray look tame by comparison.
Too, their treatment after being overcome by tear gas, beaten by police or worse killed was to be dragged to the side of the road and placed with the rest of the trash.
Story continues after the video break.
Where Tahrir Square was a gathering place of refuge and celebration in January and February, it is now the site of a desperate, hastily erected protestor field hospital. Medical students have been treating head trauma indicating police sharp shooters have directly targeted the eyes and heads of many protestors and, especially, journalists from rooftop positions. One sadly prophetic photo over the weekend in The Atlantic showed three journalist victims of these ‘eye shots,’ one of whom had lost his second eye after losing the first one back in January.
Calls for supplies and help have been used via the #TahrirNeeds hashtag and Twitter account. The field hospital in Tahrir Sq. was the scene of mass protestor panic as doctors, nurses and suppliers gathered in an urgent race to treat people and save lives. All last evening the Al Jazeera live shot showed a steady stream of people carried by car, ambulance, wagon and bicycle to the centre of Tahrir Square for urgent medical attention. This Al Jazeera report from inside the hospital shows how primitive it is located outside storefronts.
Story continues after the video break.
Nearly all the calls yesterday were for medical supplies, medicines, blood donors as well as specialists in neurosurgery, eye trauma and casualty nurses as the only thing that changed was that instead of Mubarak calling the brutal shots it was Field Marshall General Tantawi running the regime. Now the crowd is demanding the military structure come under a new civilian government and that General Tantawi resign and relinquish control.
This time the government learned their lessons from Tahrir 1 and, it appears, Syria’s Assad. While no troops are directly involved, it is hard to imagine that the Interior Ministry and police could launch this coordinated and brutal a series of attacks without approval from senior officials. This was more than a lone rogue pepper-spraying officer.
As of yesterday more than 33 bodies sat in the main Cairo morgue where families are reportedly pressured to claim the remains of their loved ones by signing statements saying that their visibly and clearly brutalised children died of ‘natural causes’ or the bodies would not be released. This time there are video cameras to document and the video below is not for the weak of heart.
It is a level of barbarism few in the West see. Imagine your 18-year old on a slab in a morgue having been shot for demanding freedom. OK, imagine instead of pepper spray, the UC Davis officers decided to shoot rubber bullets at point blank range? Now do you see the picture?
While clearly a setback, the most heartening images are of the people once again streaming angrily into Tahrir Square. The people, united, will never be defeated.
They promised elections within 6 months, the first Paliamentary elections begin in a week and the presidential election may not occur until 2013. The SCAF refused to remove the military from control or ease emergency rule. Indeed they only react when the people mass in the streets in huge numbers and they feel threatened.
While the American Revolution took almost 12 years from July of 1776 until 1787 to create a Constitution and Egypt has had just nine months, the people are tired of excuses and very tired of waiting.
This fluid story will change yet again this evening when General Tantawi addresses the nation. We will update this story later.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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