Deaths stop overnight in Tahrir, revolutionaries in square plan for big Friday against SCAF

Mostafa Ali, Wednesday 23 Nov 2011

After another bloody day in Tahrir in which CSF killed several protesters, including a doctor, and wounded hundreds, protesters are vowing to bring down military rule starting on the "Friday for justice for martyrs"

Tahrir Square
A general view shows Tahrir Square as protesters chant slogans against head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi at Tahrir Square in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

The sirens of tens of ambulances that ferried hundreds of seriously injured protesters for days now have quieted down in Tahrir square in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Doctors at several field hospitals are still treating some minor wounds, but enjoy a much needed rest after four straight days of frantically trying to treat countless young people suffering from poisoning caused by tear gas fired by Central Security Forces (CSF) or from multiple direct attacks by soldiers on the field hospitals themselves.

The relative calm in the square, especially along Mohamed Mahmoud street where most of the 37 martyrs of the clashes between revolutionaries and the police died in the last few days, is set to last at least till 6am.

Earlier tonight, Azhar officials rebrokered a truce between protesters and the ministry of interior which commands the CSF after police twice violated similar agreements.

Yet, the day's clashes had left several more protesters dead including a young field doctor Rania Fouad who was killed after entering into a coma following an attack by tear gas canisters on her make-shift clinic while she was tending to others injured in the clashes.

Hundreds sustained injuries from tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition used by the police, by most accounts.

But the violence used by CSF did not seem to have broken the spirits of revolutionaries. If anything, it has apparently strengthened the resolve of most to take their battle against the ruling military council (SCAF) to a new level.

For one, tens of thousands of people are still camping in the square and more newcomers replace those who leave the square to tend to business on short breaks. Moreover, many are spending the night discussing how to prepare for a mass million man march on Friday in Tahrir and other cities around the country.

Others are sleeping or searching for blankets to protect them from a chilly Cairo night to catch a few hours of sleep before the battle to force the ruling military council to hand power to a civilian administration resumes by morning time.

More protesters have set up multiple new tents in the central island of the square in the past few hours, and there is very little room left for more.

And Wednesday night, 500 people joined a demonstration called for by the Popular Socialist Alliance Party and other revolutionaries, and circled the square chanting against military rule.

Meanwhile, back on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, hundreds of protesters have erected barricades to protect themselves against any sudden attack by the CSF. At the entrance to the street, tens of volunteers have formed human shields to slow down people who are still trying to enter the street.

Some of the guards who have blocked entry into the battle zone told Ahram Online that they keeping numbers entering the street to a minimum in order not to scare the CSF and invite the soldiers to start shooting at protesters again as they have been doing for four days.

"If they shoot, we will go in and support those at the barricades. But, for the time being, our goal is not to provoke a fight and sacrifice more martyrs," one of the human shields told Ahram Online.

Away from Mohamed Mahmoud, the mood among thousands of protesters seemed to be upbeat.

Many protesters are continuing with the chants against the SCAF from previous days: "Why are you playing the Army with us? Are you we the Zionists or what?" and "Shame, shame, shame. Army kills revolutionaries."

In order to compensate for the absence of stages and microphones that rally crowds, based upon a consensus reached informally by some protesters who want to keep all traditional political parties from having an organised presence in the sit-in, protesters are still chanting against field marshal Tantawi, the head of SCAF, and some are using projectors to post slogans and chants against SCAF on a huge building near Hardees at the entrance of Mohamed Mahmoud in order to allow thousands behind them to read.

Scores of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood whose organisation opposes the sit-in or any confrontation with the SCAF tried throughout the day to convince protesters to call it a day saying that people must concentrate on voting in the parliamentary elections set for 28 November if they wanted to end military rule.

Meanwhile, another group of Islamists, followers of the Salafist Movement, who are taking part in the sit-in organized a demonstration of a few hundred people to call on revolutionaries not to enter Mohamed Mahmoud street to stop the bloodshed.

Neither one of the Islamist attempts seemed to have dampened the willingness of masses of young people to confront the CSF or denounce the SCAF’s intent to hold elections on time as it declared Tuesday.

In fact, many young people who are unable at this point to enter Mohamed Mahmoud to support those on the front-line of the battle against CSF posted stickers distributed by a group of revolutionary socialists that read "A Martyr is available here" to underscore their readiness to die for a chance to live in a democratic country not ruled by army generals.

On the edges to the square, taxis and micro-buses are picking up demonstrators who choose to go home for a shower or attend to their jobs before they return to the square as most have done in the last five days.

Meanwhile, in the center part, hundreds of street vendors are still selling food, phone cards, sweet Potatoes, Kosharii gas-masks, tea and everything people need to replenish and stay alive to continue fighting.

Simultaneously, demonstrations against military rule continued in several parts of Egypt such as Alexandria and Ismailia on the Suez Canal where one protester died.

14 youth and revolutionary groups have called for a million man march on Friday, dubbing the rally: Friday for Justice for martyrs and civilian rule.

Revolutionaries seemed to have agreed on three main demands: immediate transfer of power to a civilian body; immediate trials for officers who killed martyrs since January 25; and the dismantlement of the Central Security Forces.

As morning light began to sneak on protesters in the square for the sixth day in a row, most protesters seemed to have decided to bunker in on Thursday and mobilise friends, co-workers and students in order to prepare for a big show of force on Friday when thousands more who are planning to come from nearby governorates in order to join Tahrir against the SCAF.

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