Sameh Naguib, a leading Revolutionary Socialist, speaking against SCAF at the group's headquarters (Photo: Ahram)
The National Association for Change reform movement and 15 political parties held a press conference at the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate on Thursday to respond to the latest statement by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) on the ongoing clashes in downtown Cairo.
Head of the syndicate’s freedoms committee Mohammed Abdul Quddus condemned the human rights violations recently committed against protesters in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square. At the conference, Abdul Quddus screened video footage showing a number of such violations by military and police forces.
Abdul Quddus also called for the arrest of those responsible for the bloody incidents, and allowed relatives of slain protesters a chance to present their painful experiences to reporters. A ten-minute video was also shown showing brutal assaults by soldiers against civilian protesters in recent days, highlighting the injuries sustained by numerous activists.
Prominent human rights activist Gamal Eid said that “crimes against humanity” had been committed both during and after the army’s crackdown last Friday on a three-week-long sit-in at the Cabinet building, as well as when police forces clashed with anti-government protesters on Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Street late last month.
“The authorities are responsible for these crimes, and the ruling military council is in charge of these authorities,” Eid said. “The culprits will be brought to justice sooner or later.”
The press conference also saw activists associated with the Revolutionary Socialists respond to recent accusations by journalists and talk show hosts that the group was actively promoting anarchy and instability.
The campaign against the group, which includes labour and student activists, was initiated by Mohamed Nour, spokesman for the Salafist Nour Party, who recently stated on television that “anarchy” was the movement’s overriding objective. He also accused the group of receiving funds from US intelligence agencies.
On Wednesday, independent daily El-Youm El-Sabea posted a video online of a recent speech by Revolutionary Socialist member Sameh Naguib in which he blasted the SCAF for defending the former regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. The paper went on to assert that the 44-year-old university professor’s comments constituted proof that the Revolutionary Socialists were, in fact, working to foment a military coup.
Naguib responded to these charges by telling reporters that the media and the SCAF together aimed to “discredit revolutionaries” through fear-mongering campaigns and talk of hidden anarchist agendas.
“They don’t want this revolution to continue; to realise its twin goals of freedom and social justice,” Naguib told reporters. “That’s why they smear the revolutionaries.”
Haitham Mohamedain, for his part, a rights lawyer and member of the Revolutionary Socialists, told reporters that his group – like other Egyptian political movements – was simply working to purge remnants of the Mubarak regime from all segments of Egyptian society.
“We want to end all Mubarak-era institutions and instead build democratic institutions accountable to the public,” Mohameddain said.
In an official statement, the Revolutionary Socialists described corruption as “a cancer spreading throughout Egypt's body,” adding that the Egyptian people had long suffered from ruling elites that had pilfered the nation’s wealth for six decades.
"We were a part of the January 25 Revolution and we will continue our struggle in Tahrir Square and elsewhere until the revolution triumphs," Naguib said.
Meanwhile, tens of people have posted statements of solidarity with the Revolutionary Socialists on Twitter and facebook in the past two days, and hundreds others logged on to the Revolutionary Socialists Facebook page to download Naguib's speech.
Salah Adly, the head of the Egyptian Communist Party stated at the above-mentioned press conference his group's rejection of 'attempts by the ruling military council' to slander revolutionaries, and defended freedom of expression.
The SCAF, along with several media outlets, had earlier accused the April 6 youth movement of receiving foreign funding with the aim of sowing chaos in Egypt. Such allegations were never substantiated, however, and the movement was eventually cleared by the government of any wrongdoing.