Revolutionary Youth Coalition suspends dialogue with military council

Salma Shukrallah, Sunday 10 Apr 2011

Youth coalition announces it will stage a sit-in if investigations into the fatal violence that erupted in Tahrir Square on Saturday morning does not start before Friday

Tahrir Square was evacuated by force at dawn on April 9 (Photo Reuters)

Egypt's Revolutionary Youth Coalition released a statement at a press conference on Sunday condemning the violence used by the military in Tahrir Square and declared that their dialogue with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will be suspended until investigations take place and several other demands are met.

The coalition added that a sit-in will be staged from next Friday if investigations have not started by then and leading figures of the former ruling regime, including Mubarak, have yet to be tried. The coalition are also demanding the release of those detained by the army.

However, the statement stressed that the coalition supported unity within the military.

Coalition representatives, including Khaled El-Saied, Sally Toma, Asmaa Mahfouz, Amr Ezz, Moaz Abdelkarim, Mohamed Abbas, Shady El-Ghazaly, Nasser Abdelhamid, Khaled Abdelhamid and Mohamed El-Kassas, compared the use of violence against demonstrators to that of Mubarak’s ousted regime. They also criticized the role of the media in criminalizing the demonstrators, describing it as being “as un-transparent and dishonest as it was under Mubarak’s rule.”

The coalition criticized the SCAF on several other levels, saying that it did not engage in proper dialogue, while taking several decisions and applying new laws that the youth coalition, and many others, oppose. The decisions mentioned include the law banning strikes and demonstrations, that regarding the establishment of political parties, the short span of time given before parliamentary and presidential elections and the decree law regarding political participation rights. They also criticized the application of several constitutional articles that were not approved by the 19 March referendum.

Members of the coalition describe the National Dialogue set up by the new government as merely “cosmetic” as the government was not serious in engaging with political groups and parties. “Many decisions had already been taken without dialogue and no proper preparation has been made to assure that the dialogue is effective,” says Mohamed Abbas.

Coalition members also refuted the military council's allegations that thugs were amongst those at the sit-in on Friday night, adding that those accused of being associated with NDP member Ibrahim Kamel, involved in the camel attack on Tahrir Sqaure on 2 February, were not guilty but were “with us in Tahrir from the outset of the revolution.”

The press conference was interrupted by Mohamed Abd El-Qodous, a member of the Press Syndicate's Freedom Committee, who explained that the son of syndicate member Hussein Abd El-Aziz was amongst those arrested by the military on 9 April and that the syndicate will give the SCAF a very short time to release him as well as other prisoners before staging a sit-in. He added that “there is a crack in the relation now between the military and the people created by the counter-revolution but also by mistakes from both sides of the revolutionaries and the army. The officers who joined the sit-in should have participated as citizens, but the military’s statements to the press were not true. The military said that no live ammunition was used although demonstrators were shot dead.”

Several protesters were injured and one has been confirmed dead after the military cracked down on protesters in Tahrir Square in the early hours of 9 April. The military council have declared through statements that those in the square were “thugs and members of the former ruling National Democratic Party” who they accused of “conducting sabotage” in the square.

The military’s attempt to disperse demonstrators came after several army officers - who some say were only claiming to be so - joined the Tahrir sit-in.

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