Eye witness: Army attack protesters at security building

Ekram Ibrahim , Monday 7 Mar 2011

State security investigations headquarters in Lazoughly the scene of renewed army aggression towards protesters maintaining the pressure after Saturday's demonstration at the Medinet Nasr HQ, where files were salvaged

Within the last 48 hours Egyptians have seen themselves forced to rush inside burning state security buildings to rescue burning files that could prove the abuses of state security and government officials. Normally, when the military arrived, the neighbourhood residents would transfer the caretaking into their hands.

But the national state security headquarters in Lazoughly Square, most infamously known for torture, was a different story from the beginning: the army and thugs suddenly attacked protesters in attempts to force them to evacuate the premises.

Protesters have been calling for people to help save the burning documents through Twitter since the previous night. They Tweeted that the military told them that they would let them in "if your numbers increase".

Most Egyptians have enough of living in a police state.

At 3pm around 500 protesters were present. Most of them desiring to see with their own eyes what the state security is doing: burning documents. And to see what documents they are burning.

Military forces tried to convince the protesters that there was nothing inside to see.

“The prosecutor general and other officials have been here from 3am until midnight, gathering remaining files and sealing the offices,” one soldier told Ahram Online.

“To be honest, the majority of the files are already shredded: corridors are full of piles of shredded paper,” another soldier added.

Protesters insisted they be let inside to see the scene with their own eyes.

A question is screamed: "Why did the army wait for security officials to shred the files and leave the building to come?"

Some protesters chanted “we warned you this was happening, why didn’t you arrive earlier?”

At 5 pm what appeared to be thugs appeared with knives and swords to attack the protesters, but protesters pushed and resisted and the thugs were forced to leave. No one knew for sure whether these were thugs or local residents hostile to the protesters' presence in their neighbourhood.

The protesters became frustrated and began pushing to enter the building just for the sake of it.

Unfamiliar faces appeared on the scene. Someone whispered “Those guys should not get in, it would turn into chaos.”

The army finally conceded to let protesters in - who had grown to 1000 people by 7pm. The military divided everyone in two lines: one for males and the other for females, but they didn’t keep their word and didn't let anyone in.

Of course, that led to anger and some protesters pushed hard on the army cordon. The army became violent immediately. They opened fire, intensely in the air. It felt a like a war.

Protesters ran away only to run into the thugs that suddenly reappeared to throw stones and bottles at them.

At that moment I ran for cover inside the ministry of justice building with protesters for protection. A couple of minutes later army forces smashed in, breaking the glass door and pushing us out. 

We ran away in surprise. No one expected that from the army.

A smaller bunch of protesters came back later and the army did finally let some of them in.

Those protesters described the exact same sequence of events repeated with them.

What the protesters lament the most is that it was obvious to them that the army purposefully took too long to arrive in order to allow the security officials do whatever they wanted with the files. Despite the efforts of protesters, they have not been able to stop the state security’s cover-up plan.

After the protesters were dispersed by the army, 27 were detained; among them prominent activists Azza Shaaban, Bothayna Kamel and Mohamed Abul Farag. Some were released yesterday and the rest today after investigations.

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