Thirty five political groups and parties have turned down the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ invitation for a series of meetings that should start today. They have signed a statement to officially announce their rejection.
The April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolution Youth Coalition, the National Front of Justice and Democracy, the Union of Maspero Youth, Tahrir Doctors (the Field Hospital) and the Progressive Revolution Youth group are among the most prominent of the groups to boycott the dialogue.
Their statement read as follows:
“Dear members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, your invitation to the revolutionary movements for meetings and a direct dialogue, which came in [the council’s] 60th and 61st statements, made us happy as it represents a turning point in the relationship between the council and the revolutionary movements.
“We were missing the adoption of the revolution's demands, which resulted in forming laws and policies that contradict with the revolution’s principles. Therefore, we appreciate any attempt to fulfill the revolution's demands in accordance with the wish of the protesters. And we have the following reservations about your invitation:
“1- We cannot accept the fact that the dialogue is conducted amid military trials for the protesters, excesses committed by the military police and a lack of transparency in investigations over these excesses – as what happened in the aftermath of the March 9 sit-in. Also we object to participating in the dialogue with active laws that penalise strikes, protests, peaceful sit-ins and freedom of speech, which were enacted by your council that also criminalise talking about the military to the media.
“2- The invitation did not mention what the aspects or topics are, or the ground rules by which the dialogue will be conducted, like what happened in the previous official dialogues which allowed the remnants of the former regime to sneak in and that led to chaos, and we do not want to be responsible for this.
“3- The invitation was made in a hurry and there was no time – [only] 48 hours – for feedback or for the groups’ members to discuss it.
“4- Asking for the attendance of any ten persons from any group that claim they are from the revolution movements is a form of chaos and media publicity, which does not provide the minimum terms for a national dialogue. The gathering of a thousand youths on a stage without prior agreement makes the meeting pointless.
“5- We categorically refuse to separate the revolutionary movements from the rest of the national forces as it weakens the revolutionary forces.
“The invitation of the revolutionary movements did not reflect seriousness, and so we cannot accept this invitation … we call for a reconsideration of the interpretation of the dialogue in order to come up with a program that is capable of making such an important dialogue work.”
The No for Military Trials campaign and the Popular Committee to Defend the Revolution also refused to take part in the dialogue but did not sign the petition.
The dialogue seems to be an attempt by the ruling military council to clear the air after facing a torrent of criticism and allegations of late.
The introduction of several controversial legislations by the military council, as well as a lack of action against toppled president Hosni Mubarak and other figures of the former regime – all detained on multiple charges of corruption – enraged the revolution youths.
On the other hand, other groups accepted the invitation for the dialogue, which kicks off today, to be among the thousand participants. These include the National Association for Change and its affiliates, the Free Revolutionaries Front, the Alliance of Egypt’s Revolutionaries and the Free Egypt Revolution Coalition.