Thursday, June 09, 2011

Imaba is Very angry, As am I.

Last week we went to a mu2tamar sha3bey organized by Imbaba's popular committee (lagna sha3beyya) concerning the trials of police officers who killed protesters in Imbaba on the 29th of January.

There was so much anger in that meeting, that i left more angry than i had gone and have been able to do very little about it.

For starters, i had helped gather a contact list of journalists and producers who me and Ehaab from the lagna contacted about the event, and most people seemed interested bas no one showed up. When i got there i asked Ehaab if any of the journalists we called came and he said "Not one. If we had done this in the journalists's syndicate everyone would have come. Bas seems we have to choose , it's either Imbaba or 'everyone' and we can't keep ignoring Imbaba'.

What was wonderful about the conference was just taht; this was a conference about Imbaba for Imbaba, by Imbaba, and people were invited to come in solidarity and support. Activists and journalists were invited as well as legan sha3beyya from matareyya, kerdasa, dar el salam and other places where the situation is similar. WHere activists have been killed and no one's being held accountable for it.

They invited Aida Seif EL Dawla of El Nadim, and other human rights activists to speak and there was a short debate about whether it is the officers that should be held accountable - since they shot, bas what about the fact that they were taking orders? And how about people higher up in ranks like Mubarak and Adly, who gave the orders, bas may have not known about things. Or how about a whole system that is not at all accountable to people and allowed for this to happen?

This made me furious. I mean is it REALLY that difficult to have a fucking trial where justice is questioned. WHY, 6 months later do we STILL not know who gave the fucking orders to shoot, and what the fuck exactly happened?!

Over and above the fact that the families went to the first court hearing in the beginning of May and found that the officers were not fe affass el eteheaam and the judge adjourned the hearing and left the court-house when he found out 'Imbaba was there' and the families were locked into the court house when they went ballistic; news was out the next day that the families attacked the courthouse adn therefore the session was postponed for a week, AND rumors were spread in Imbaba by dakhleyya and mukhbereen that those killed were actually baltageyya and were killed in teh process of attacking el 2e2saam.

So the lagna sha3beyya produced fliers (of which i have a copy) showing the pictures, age, occupation (in most cases what grade they were in school or university) and where exactly they were shot to prove that these victims were nowhere near the police station. That 15 year old Islam was stepping out of a mosque when he was shot in his back and the bullet exited through his stomach, and that 18 year old Nasser was running back into his building when he was shot in the head, and that 26 year old Mohammed Salah was driving his toktok when he was shot in his chest.

During the conference the families of the martyrs came up to speak. Some spoke of being offered money (150,000 LE) to yetnazlu 3an their cases, others were offered apartments and others a car instead of the toktok. The latter said he told the official that came to make the offer that they weren't interested, that this time they wanted justice and a sustainable system of it. And the officer said 'khalley baalek, el 7aye7besuna dul 7abasuna aslan'

There was talk by activists calling on the families of imbaba to support each other so they don't have to relent and accept musal7aat by police oR WORSE in some cases people were being threatened if they didn't let go of el adeyya. Just like the popular committee was threatened when they decided to hold this conference and activists that wanted to hold a nadwa to discuss the sectarian violence were threatened by a police officer.. you can't have such a nadwa without tasri7 from mudereyet amn el giza. In short they don't want sectarian issues to be solved.

So no one has any place to talk about sectarian violence and salafeyeen without first visiting the scene of the crime and finding out WHAT exactly happened.

After the many stories people started to talk about what's to be ne next. Lawyers warned that justice will never be served through courts alone, that people needed to rally and mobilize and camp before the police stations. that they needed to go to mudereyeeat amn el giza.

Bas Ahaaley Imbaba spoke differently. They said that their revolution was against the police force, why is the police still where it is in the hierarchy of power, and why are they still subject to its abuse?! Is it because they weren't violent enough? Than in the next revolution there will be blood.

Are laws and 'justice' only applicable to people like us. Is justice only taken through when it comes to arresting baltageyya from Imbaba??

THey will give justice and the courts one more chance before they take matters into their own hands. THey didn't rise up and sacrifice their own lives and the lives of their children for things to stay exactly the same.

One man spoke up and said "El thawra mesh fel tahrir". How many of the (according to Aida Seif El Dawla) 1,100 people that died were from tahrir? And how many were from el manate2 el sha3beyya that surrounded it...

My personal anger stems from the fact that the revolution has continued so beautifully through el legan el sah3beyya that have struggled and continue to struggle to practice politics in their areas, to demand social justice, to work on political and social awareness, and try to ensure that their people are represented, that refuse to take any funds to make sure they are credibel and accountable to their people; and the extent to which they are ignored. How many activists are supporting hte work being done in Imbaba and Shubra and 7adaye2 el qubba and boulaq?

WORST yet, how many activists talk about how ignorant people are, and how politically unaware and how sectarian?! Activists talk about political integrity and freedom of speech and ideals of this and that, bas people are practicing this on the ground and by 'people' i mean legaan sha3beyya in populous areas as well as teh lagna sha3beyya in Maadi for instance. It's not a matter of social class necessarily.

Bas the problem with el manate2 el sha3beyya is that they are highly under-represented. Activists that appear on tv, don't look like them, don't act like them, don't speak like them, and when they talk about priorities they don't seem to include them at all. WE HAVE to get past htis impasse where we believe we 'represent' people and accept that EGYPT Is huge and that somehow these communities have grown to develop representative groups that can speak in all their names. These groups, regardless of their political orientations have to be in all our meetings and we NEED to prioritize being in their events and attempts.

Lots of people are worried about upcoming parliamentary elections and so am i. But for some areas, the legaan are no longer preparing awareness sessions because people are loosing interest.. they are not receiving any justice from the revolution; their situation hasn't changed, they are not receiving any economic plans or promises, and frankly things are looking bleak. talk of parliamentary elections and liberal and socialist and islamist systems and economies is becoming vague and theoretical.

THe revolution is unraveling into something that belongs to people on twitter and facebook and nice pristine samples that appear on tv and use terminologies in different languages, and those that died for this revolution believing it would make a difference in their lives are ignored.

To be honest, this issue of media representation is one that's been complained about a lot since the revolution; say in March and April. I think since, people have decided you know what fuck the media, it doesn't represent us anyway, bas they are FAST at work. For them it isn't about talk or politics, it's about working hard and quickly to establish a precedence of justice and system of political representation, and find a way to understand how things operate economically and what budgets exist where in the state to make sure they are served and served well.

For that very reason some areas are refuting Islamist representation. They know the MB and other islamists played the role of an absent government and right now they want to be integrated. But what the state is trying to establish at the moment, is that hey are still unheard, that their best bet at justice is to accept what the ministry of interior is trying to dish out of money and property and that things will go back to what htey have been.

There is a growing anger and trembling panic in these areas. That things will relapse into what they were, which is now unacceptable given how far they come. And frankly being there and then hearing activists talk about baltageyya and infelatt amney and sectarian strife drives me crazy.

I am astounded at how ignorant ignorant ignorant we can be. How ignorant of our people, how ignorant of this need for dignity, how ignorant of what it means to risk everything for a life of dignity and justice and at the possibility of just standing a chance at LIVING, at the possibility of an education, at the possibility of water and electricity and a legal system taht serves you.

Yesterday in a meeting networking popular committees, there were a number of inspiring issues raised like the work being done by a popular committee in St Katherine in Sinai and how it can be supported, and how some legan feel there is an under-representation fo christians, and have approached churches, or simply gone around knocking on doors to encourage more people to join so they feel they are equally representative. ANd then there was teh talk of a coalition of the families of the martyrs that was developing. Including Imbaba, Matareyya, Dar EL Salam, Kerdasa and a number of other places.

None of these areas have seen or received any promise of trials or accountability and feel they are slowly sinking on the list of national opportunities and the discussion went something like this. What can we do that is really really drastic that will stop the flow in the country so the media can come, or the army can come, and listen to what we're going through.

And they were really trying to think of something that would be drastic enough for immediate attention and yet not cause too much harm to everyday people. When someone suggest they go to tahrir, most of us smirked and sniggered. And i realized then and there that tahrir has become a space for a different struggle. A struggle that's about political integrity or a political rhetoric that is devoid somehow of REAL justice and REAL politics, that of our every day lives.

For YEARS activists asked 'feyn el naas' we 'feyn el shaab' when we were in protests that were highly outnumbered by state security. We ba3deyn el naas gat we tel3t we aamet, they graced the revolution, and they made something real and powerful and wonderful and unforgettable of it. And by real and powerful i mean on the level of our personal lives, as well as that of the history of movements.

Bas this was a POPULAR revolution; there is something miraculous to that, bas there is also a HUGE sense of responsibility towards it to. Our priorities have to develop with consensus.

It's impossible to talk about parliament or constitution when people do not have security in tehri day to day lives, when their dignity is being threatened again and when they are being held with a knife at their throats. Not to mention when they are at a risk for military trials.

This revolution was born out of street politic, and there it continues. It is in our demands for social justice; that we are all one in the eyes of court and justice and legality; it is in teh birht of popular committees that are practicing politics and representation, not because they are ambitious, bas because that is how political orders seem to develop organically and that is what there is a need for; proper representation in all of these areas.

We really need to pay attention to what is REALLY happening on the streets and what there is a need and demand for. Let go of political theories and demands and idea and structures for how things should flow ideally. There is a wisdom and consciousness in the streets, adn more yet, in the streets there is US. There is a history of what this country is, there is a population, there is a reality, we somehow choose to continue to ignore as we pursue the political ideals taht our thoughts and ideologies dictate to us.

This is a very very angry rant, and my hands are really shaking as i try to type this, and i wish i could have somehow found the peace sometime since Imabab's meeting last thursday to address teh constructive points we need to consider, and how we need to move.

We nee to support the efforts of el legaan el sha3beyya; we need to mobilize citizen media not only for protests bas to document what's happening in these areas; we need to listen to eh families of the martyrs and those arrested by the army because these are the people that were suffering before the revolution and who continue o suffer most after it. If they don't receive justice, tahn social justice will continue to be a theoretical term that will serve none of us.

We are at this incredibally powerful moment with incredible potential where people WANT to act, they want everything that is ideal and democratic, they want accountability and transparency they want to discuss politics they NEED TO HEAR ABOUT ECONOMICs.. bas do to that they need to sense that they are free.

And just as we as activists are proud to be able to say that this is a populous revolution and there was an almost historical record of 'people' being part of it, we need to be more than smug about it. 'People' came out for something, they need to acknowledge that they are part of this struggle; they need to acknowledge that their losses are appreciated and considered.

Activists in Alexandria and Suez, say they are always much more advanced than cairo because we have 'da2 el 2e3lam' we are so obsessed with who comes out on tv and who says what to represent whom and being articulate that we completely miss out on what is going on on the ground and in the lives of people that surround us. At the beginning of the revolution this was said with bitterness, because infact, they were barely represented at ALL on the media, even though they were the first and second lines of defense, but as they watch cairo degenerate into a hollywood revolution with glamorous stars and TV talk, they deem it irrelevant at times, adn at others, at times when they realize that Cairo is highly symbolic they wonder if they have lost the revolution to all the Waels and Shadis of this country.

This revolution is in the streets. It's in every street. Let's stop listening to the media, and make the media. We met a 'people' in tahrir we NEED to keep in touch. I personally find that we are doomed whichever way we look at structural politics from above; bas from below, there is something wonderful happening. There are many local and popular governance systems that are developing and experimenting with themselves and their constituencies. They are a metaphor for this revolution and they have grown out of it, if we pay close attention to them, and work on forming or participating in the forms of governance that are developing in our own neighbourhoods we will really understand the dynamics of politic in this country, and there's a chance we will learn something.

We will learn something that we will never learn from the history of politics or revolutions, or Gene zift, or all the books on political history and theory, and ideology. Because before we learn something about politics, we will learn something about ourselves.

There is SUCH an opportunity in all that is happening. Bas we verge on a very very sensitive point, where anger is mounting, people's tolerance for injustice is thinning by the day. Forget tahrir, forget tv, hit the streets.

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