Broken Promises in Egypt

November 22, 2011

egypt protests
Egypt's interim military rulers have been accused of continuing Mubarak-era abuses© Mohamed Ali Eddin/Demotix

After three days of violence in the streets and with national parliamentary elections, scheduled for next week, now at risk, many people have concluded that the Egyptian uprising, so inspiring in the spring has gone off the tracks this fall.

The blame falls squarely on one source: Egypt’s ruling military council.  In a new report released today, Amnesty International accuses the military rulers of “crushing the hopes” of the spring protesters and in some cases the evidence of military abuses is now exceeding that of the Mubarak regime.

That record includes using military courts to try thousands of civilians, cracking down on peaceful protest, detention of bloggers and activists such as Alaa Abd El Fatta and Maikel Nabil Sanad who criticized the military and expanding use of the State of Emergency powers.  The abuses came to a head this week, when security forces attacked protesters in Tahrir Square and other public areas throughout the country.  Estimates of the dead top three dozen.  Late Monday night, the country’s interim civilian government offered to resign, and the culture minister did resign in protest of the violence used against protesters.

The timing, with long anticipated parliamentary elections scheduled for Nov. 28, couldn’t be worst.  Major political parties are assessing whether to participate in demonstrations or hold back for fear that further escalation could lead to the canceling of elections, which some prominent Egyptians are now saying is likely.

But at this dark hour, there is a way to reclaim the hope of the spring Egyptian uprising.  It begins with fulfilling the promises made during the uprising.

  • Political Change: Egypt’s political parties should commit to human rights reform by signing Amnesty International’s Manifesto for Human Rights.

  • Women’s Rights: Egypt’s government must act to ensure women are able to fully participate in public and political life.

  • End the State of Emergency: The Military leadership must stop using security as an excuse to keep the same old practices that lead to human rights abuses.  Most prominently it must end impunity for torturers and stop trying civilians in military courts.

As I write this late Monday night, dawn is rising in Egypt and people are already beginning to head back to Tahrir and other public spaces to stand in solidarity for their rights.  The tweets and Facebook postings are already coming in challenging the military regime.

“Winning seat in parliament means nothing if on the journey to the seat you give up the demands of the revolution.”

That came today from Gameela Ismail, a prominent female Egyptian political leader. This is not a populace that has given in to cynicism and returned to their homes quietly. This is still their uprising, and it has not failed.

Take action: Add your signature to end the State of Emergency.