Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not quite in Gaza

After all the successful publicity we got (see front page of NY Times) from the Journalist building rally, the GFM went into a very distructive split. Code Pink had negotiated for two buses to Gaza, with a number of stipulations (no French, no Mid-eastern peoples, only 16 hours, and an end to political action here in Cairo). Since everything is rumor, these conditions may not be accurate.

As soon as this was told to various groups, there was a rebellion. Long meetings into the night. The next morning there was a nasty scene at the busses with people getting on and off, depending on who was trying to convince them. In the end, the second bus was only half full when it left.

Today's action was really hard to pull off. The Lotus Hotel was blockaded by police, and groups of three or more were not allowed on the sidewalks. Communications was terrible and plans kept changing. But at 10:00 am about 250 took to the street in a large square by the Nation Museum, stopping all traffic. Very soon, things got tense and the pressure of people crowded together caused some to fall. We were forced ahead, over the people who were sitting. Arms, legs, screams. There was a woman who couldn't get up after she had been stepped on. She was screaming for her life.

Ahead of us were the special police who were throwing and dragging people off the road. More yelling, as some people were punched and hit. After one of the special police had punched someone, a guy in a suit came up and pulled him back and out of the line. Maybe the official position was not to hurt people.

I talked to some Muslim protesters, and they thought they had been targeted for bad treatment. But the scene in the road was tough for everyone. Anyone infirm to start with faced some real danger. Not what most of the GFM had really signed up for. There were about 5 who needed and got medical attention.

We were then condoned off by the side of the road, with police lines all around. After about an hour, they started letting people out.

It was also the most exhilarating of the actions we have done. Intense energy, and I was very glad I had done it. I got some great footage of the cops as they broke things up.

May be my last time in Egypt unless I change my name.


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