Tensions at Maspero as hundreds join sit-in

Ekram Ibrahim, Friday 24 Jun 2011

Groups of protesters including families of the martyrs, poultry vendors and homeless families from El-Salam gather for a sit-in at Maspero state TV building, closing off some roads to traffic

Photo: May Shahin

Today hundreds of families of martyrs killed in the revolution joined the Maspero demonstrations, as did a number of poultry vendors, blocking off traffic to the area. They are planning a sit-in until their demands are met.

Protesters are scattered in front of the state TV building, Maspero, where around 200 El-Salam families are sleeping on the pavements. Another 500 protesters from the families of martyrs are facing the building and the poultry vendors are scattered all around the place; in total there is over of a thousand protester.

The families of the martyrs are planning to continue their sit-in in front of Maspero until the trial of the former minister of the interior, Habib el-Adly, on Sunday. “We want nothing but a fair trial, we are against their postponement of the trial every time with no reason,” said Doaa Saber, sister of martyr Mohamed Saber, who was shot on January 28 in Mataria, Cairo. Chants by the families of martyrs were against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for delaying trials of those culpable whilst sending protesters to face military trails.

Meanwhile, the poultry vendors are demanding the cancellation of a recent law that prevents the sale of live poultry between provinces. “Before the revolution, we used to pay money to police officers to keep our work going. It seems that now they want to come back,” Ashraf El-Said, poultry vendor in Sharabia told Ahram Online. The police are stopping vehicles carrying poultry from the roads, according to the protesting vendors.

The business of poultry in Egypt has gone through several problems since the bird flu scare. Vendors say they had a hard time under the old regime. As the police got used to fetching their vehicles, they see this as a sign they want the bribes to be paid again. “Several policemen want to get back the monthly income they used to take from us,” Hamed Taha, poultry vendor told Ahram Online.

Poultry vendors chanted against corruption and securities. “We won’t leave here before our demands are met,” several poultry vendors chanted.

Tension was in the air as some protesters went to sit on Sixth October Bridge to stop the traffic. “They will only listen to our demands if we stop the traffic on the bridge,” Mostafa Ahmed, one of the protesters, told Ahram Online.

Accordingly, security forces surrounded the protests and asked protesters to open the street for cars. The street was opened for around half an hour and is reclosed now as protesters got back on the road.

Currently there are three groups of protesters, as martyrs families and poultry vendors have joined El-Salam, El-Nahda and El-Dowiqah families who are demanding housing.

Hundreds of the homeless protesters have been at a sit-in at Maspero for many weeks now, with no positive response coming from the government concerning their urgent demands. ‎

Currently they are chanting, “Why are you silent? Have they put you down or bribed you or what?”

Several activists keep joining the protest to show their support for the different demands.

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