Egyptians march on Tahrir Square to mark one year since clashes

Updated 20 November 2012
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Egyptians march on Tahrir Square to mark one year since clashes

CAIRO: Hundreds marched on Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday to mark one year since deadly clashes that left 45 people dead, piling pressure on President Muhammad Mursi to bring his predecessor’s police to account.
Around 50 political parties and movements took part in the commemoration, furious that a year after the clashes on Mohammed Mahmud street, no police officers have been held accountable for the deaths.
On a street branching off from the square, protesters and police lobbed stones at each other but there were no reports of casualties, a security official said.
Many carried flags with pictures of protesters who died in last year’s clashes as the chanting crowd demanded that those responsible be brought to justice.
“Whether there will be justice for victims of the Mohammad Mahmud protest, named after the street where it began, is a key test of President Muhammad Mursi’s commitment to police accountability and comprehensive security sector reform,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
Activists are staging a series of events over the week to mark last year’s clashes that lasted five days — including yesterday’s march on Tahrir.
“Since January 2011, the police have been literally getting away with murder, again and again,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.
“President Mursi should use the anniversary of the Mohammad Mahmud protest to end this impunity and begin a comprehensive process of police reform to deter further abuse,” Houry said.


Confrontations between protesters and security forces raged for five days in November 2011 on Mohammad Mahmud Street, near Cairo’s Tahrir Square — the epicenter of protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak months earlier.
Human Rights Watch says it documented how “police shot live ammunition, rubber bullets, and pellets into the crowd, and fired excessive amounts of teargas into spaces between buildings where protesters were positioned.” Only one police officer was referred to trial, on charges of attempted murder. The trial is ongoing.
He became known as the “eye sniper” after a video circulating online showed him shooting at protesters and being praised by a fellow officer for getting the protester “in the eye.” “All police officers responsible for killing, blinding, injuring, and torturing protesters at Mohammad Mahmoud need to be prosecuted and punished if Egypt is serious about deterring these abusive practices,” Houry said.
“It’s equally important to carry out a fundamental reform of regulations and practices on security force use of lethal and non-lethal weapons and on how they should police demonstrations in line with human rights standards,” he said.


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 19 July 2019
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Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

  • Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place
  • The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.