Following an “International Day of Solidarity” on 12 November, during which activists around the world demonstrated in solidarity with Egypt’s ongoing revolution, new marches are being organised this week – in the Arab world and beyond – to protest Egypt’s longstanding practice of referring civilians to military courts.
Lebanese activists, for example, are calling for a protest march on 18 November outside the Egyptian embassy in Beirut, timed to coincide with a scheduled million-man demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square this Friday.
And in Toronto’s Dundas Square, Egyptian expatriate activists are organising a protest slated for Saturday. “We’re demanding the immediate release of all those detained by Egypt’s military, including blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah,” event organisers declared on a dedicated Facebook page.
Initiated by Egypt’s own “No Military Trials for Civilians” campaign, the global call for an international day of solidarity with the Egyptian revolution appears to have been answered.
On 12 November, participants in the burgeoning “Occupy” movement in 23 cities around the world marched to express support for Egypt’s popular uprising. Along with US cities such as Oakland, New York, San Francisco and Houston, pro-Egypt revolution marches were also reported in Paris, Frankfurt, Manila, Montreal, London and Stockholm.
“We condemn the climate of fear and terror that [Egypt’s] ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is spreading to snuff out the burning desire of the Egyptian people for fundamental changes,” Jose Maria Sison, chairman of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Canada, wrote.
“From Oakland to Cairo, free them all,” demonstrators associated with Occupy Oakland shouted in reference to wrongfully detained civilians throughout the world. Many carried signs reading, “Free Alaa Abdel Fatah.”
“It’s our responsibility as a movement against economic injustice to stand with the global 99 per cent and reach out to those most affected,” explained one demonstrator in Oakland, who went on to describe the Arab Spring – and Egypt’s January 25 Revolution in particular – as “the inspiration for the global Occupy movement.”
Oakland’s occupiers also expressed gratitude for Egyptian revolutionaries who recently staged demonstrations in Tahrir Square to protest police violence against Oakland protesters.
“Egyptians have marched in support of Occupy Oakland,” said one Oakland occupier. “As we were being targeted by our own government, Egyptians are now being targeted by brutal military oppression. We stand in full solidarity with them.”
Jessica Bradford, a protester affiliated with Occupy Austin, took it upon herself to organize a march in defence of Egypt’s revolution. Along with several colleagues, Bradford drove 165 miles to demonstrate in front of the Egyptian consulate in Houston.
“Say it loud, say it clear: We support Tahrir,” Austin occupiers chanted.
Bradford says she feels responsible for raising awareness in the US about what is going on in Egypt.
“Many Americans think that Egypt has rid itself of [ousted president Hosni] Mubarak and that the country is now on the path to democracy,” she said. “But we’re here to expose the Egyptian military’s oppression of – and aggression against – Egyptian revolutionaries.”
Occupy demonstrators around the world have also expressed anger over Washington’s longstanding funding of the Egyptian armed forces.
“We want to highlight the role of the US military’s economic activity against the 99 per cent of the world in order to benefit the 1 per cent in the US and abroad – particularly the practice of installing and maintaining dictators,” said one Oakland protester.
“Instead of funding the Israeli military to occupy Palestine, and the Egyptian military to repress the revolution, why not allocate funding towards education, housing, employment, and health care?” he asked.
Houston occupier Leah Gilman said: “I march today because I feel the need to speak out against the actions of my government. I believe that US foreign policy has negatively impacted the Middle East due to its economic and political interests in the region.”
Sison expressed similar sentiments.
“The military’s ongoing stranglehold on the Egyptian political system is directed by US imperialism to suppress the people’s movement that has risen in Egypt since January,” he said. “The US seeks to maintain neo-colonial control over Egypt and prevent Egypt’s popular uprising from turning into an anti-imperialist struggle.”
Gilman, for her part, expressed her confidence in the Egyptian people and their revolutionary cause.
“Even though I’m frightened by what’s happening in Egypt, I have faith in the Egyptian people,” she said. “They proved to the world that they’re willing to fight for their rights, freedom and bread.”