From Tahrir Square to Tiananmen Square

Sarah Carr writes: Every time I go to the Rab3a sit-in I think that it would be an almost impossible task to clear the people crammed into it; surely not even the Interior Ministry and armed forces would want to take on that task, not because they are concerned about loss of life but because of the logistical difficulty, and the political fallout internationally (the July 26 protests demonstrated that the anti-terrorism crowd seem to care about what the international community thinks).

So I did some cursory reading (Wikipedia, what else) on how Tiananmen Square was cleared of the pro-democracy protesters on June 4 1989 and so far there have been close parallels between the events that led up to that clearing, and events in Egypt. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: The bloodied and mangled bodies of more than a dozen supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi lined the floors of an improvised hospital in eastern Cairo on Saturday after a night of clashes between security forces and demonstrators calling for Morsi’s reinstatement left at least 46 people dead and hundreds wounded, according to the Ministry of Health.

Medics at a field hospital embedded in a pro-Morsi sit-in in eastern Cairo said they had received 37 bodies and treated hundreds of wounded in rooms that were crowded Saturday with wailing relatives and strewn with battered equipment and bloodied sheets.

Saturday’s violence erupted hours after Egypt’s interior minister and interim president warned that a nearly month-long sit-in by Morsi’s supporters and others “blocking” roads and bridges would soon be broken up.

“These sit-ins will be ended soon, within the limits of the law,” Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told the al-Hayat television station.

“We cannot accept this security chaos, and the road blocking and the bridge blocking,” interim president Adly Mansour said in a separate call to the station. “We can’t accept the attacks on public property. The state has to enforce its sovereignty.” He urged Morsi’s supporters to “go back to your homes,” adding that if they did, “no one will pursue you.”

On Friday, millions of Egyptians took to the streets, heeding a call by the nation’s military chief to support the security forces’ “mandate” to confront violence and “terrorism” — words that rights groups and Morsi’s supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood interpreted as signaling an imminent crackdown.
Grief and shock mingled with outrage in the chaotic rooms of the makeshift hospital at the Brotherhood-led protest camp in eastern Cairo on Saturday.

“Tell everyone in the village he is a martyr,” one man sobbed into a cellphone while waiting to take the body of his brother from a room that had been converted into a morgue.

Doctors and witnesses said the wounded began streaming in around 11 p.m. on Friday, as separate groups of protesters on a nearby highway and outside Cairo’s al-Azhar University came under attack.

At first, most of the victims were suffered from the suffocating effects of tear gas, then later, birdshot wounds, doctors said. By 4 a.m., a flood of people with gunshot wounds arrived, as security forces and plainclothes “thugs” clashed with pro-Morsi demonstrators on roads leading to the protest camp, witnesses and doctors said. Many victims were afraid to go to official hospitals because they feared arrest, doctors said.

Mohamed Elatfy, an emergency room doctor who practices in Britain but was visiting family in Egypt, said he hurried to help after he saw an appeal for doctors at the field hospital while watching al-Jazeera late at night.

At the time of Morsi’s ouster, he said, he was “totally against the regime.”

“It was a failing regime,” he said. But Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, the chief of the armed forces, “is calling for a civil war,” he said. “And to be honest, I can’t understand why some Egyptians are calling for a bloodbath. I was watching the marches yesterday, and I was in shock.”

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