SCAF to hold press conference Monday in response to Cabinet crackdown

Ahram Online, Nada Hussein Rashwan, Sunday 18 Dec 2011

Egypt’s ruling military council will hold a press conference Monday morning to explain its stance on attack on protesters at Cabinet building that led to three days of violence

Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will hold a press conference Monday morning at the State Information Service headquarters, to elaborate on its stance on clashes taking place for three days in the area around the Cabinet building between army forces and protesters.

Hundreds of protesters had staged a sit-in at the Cabinet headquarters for three weeks to protest military rule and Kamal El-Ganzouri’s appointment as interim prime minister. The army forcibly dispersed the sit-in on Thursday night, causing clashes with protesters that are ongoing since. Latest Ministry of Health figures report 10 deaths (mostly from gunshot wounds) and around 340 injuries between Thursday and Saturday night.

Various videos and photos have been circulating on social media sites since the clashed started, showing army soldiers using different forms of violence against protesters, holding their guns at point-blank level at protesters, and dragging and brutally beating protesters, male and female alike.

For its part, the SCAF issued a statement Friday strongly denying claims that the military police instigated the violent clashes Friday. The statement also depicted protesters as armed troublemakers. The military council also posted a YouTube video Saturday evening showing footage of people in civilian clothes vandalising buildings on Qasr El-Aini Street, as alleged proof that protesters are the ones who have instigated the violence.

It is expected that Monday’s press conference will be similar to the one held by members of the military council on 12 October, following the bloody Maspero clashes on 9 October when security forces and military police attacked a peaceful protest leaving at least 27 dead.

Similar to the Cabinet incident, raw footage from the Maspero clashes spread on social media sites, showing army vehicles running over protesters and army soldiers pointing firearms at protesters and beating them. The SCAF members who spoke at the press conference read statements and showed reporters photos and videos that allegedly proved that the military did not fire at the peaceful protest and that military vehicles could not have "intentionally" run over protesters as survivors and eyewitnesses said.

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