Today the 15th October 2011 is the day the world marched all around the globe under a unified slogan of ‘we are the 99%’ and ‘occupy x’, x referring to the specific city the rally was taking place in. The rallies followed the occupy wallstreet movement. A protest against the current world systsem in my view, it is definitely an outcry against the budget cuts in many of the countries facing the worst of the global financial crisis, but in more general terms it’s a protest against corporate greed, about the lack of social security nets, about an uncertain future facing most of the world population. And so the day came and 84 countries took part in the rallies. 84 countries.
Watching the news this evening I saw the crowds, I saw pictures from London and New York, from Frankfurt and Athens, from Spain and the Far East. But I also saw Rome. In Rome the protest got violent, a very small group of militant protestors I have to say, but in Rome a building belonging to the defense ministry was on fire, in Rome property was attacked and in Rome the police had to ‘battle’ protestors (and I quote the BBC website). I don’t aim to go into the theoretical, moral or practical debate about how far the protestors went. I just want to note that today in Rome despite all this protestors didn’t die. Despite the damage the police didn’t shoot live ammunition at protestors, in Rome no governmental body vehicle ran over protestors. I couldn’t help but feel the pain of the Egyptian revolution. Oh were we so peaceful when we started off, and oh how brutally were we handled. And I’m not talking about the raging debate about who died in front of police stations – implying that they were trying to break in etc..- and who died elsewhere! I’m talking about the brutality of running people over with tanks, I’m talking about shooting people in the face so that more than 5000 people lost their eyes, I’m talking about so many victims of state violence who still don’t get full recognition of how brutally their rights were violated.
In Egypt, today on 15th October small rallies took place, too small for a country that just – at least in part- inspired this global movement. But Egypt is grieving. Less than a week ago around 30 protestors died and an unknown number of army soldiers as well (or so we are told or not told by SCAF). At Maspero in front of the state TV building the army shot at and ran over protestors with a military tank! The army killed 25-34 protestors (so far depending on your source of information). And the military council waited two days to come out in a press conference to defend its actions and accuse the protestors of inciting the violence.
There is so much grieve and anger in me personally and hanging over the country in general I dare say, there is fear of the future, the uncertainty and the endless dark possibilities. But most of all today watching all those rallies brought the point so harshly back of how cheap – so cheap – Egyptian lives are. In Egypt and the Middle East protests are suppressed brutally, our lives don’t matter. The main reason is that in our beloved region those who rule are so drunk on power, and have so much of it concentrated at the top in the hands of only a few people that they literally go to any length to suppress dissent, they have too much to lose. They are willing to kill tens, hundreds and sometimes thousands to make sure that nothing shakes their positions in the country.
Today I wished that Cairo had its thousands and thousands of protestors, looking to change their country, marching for a better future. But today Cairo is in shock, it’s grieving and it’s uncertain of its future.
And for this I blame the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, the new face and the real spine of our old regime.