Before and after Mubarak was ousted, Egypt's military arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and disappeared thousands, a practice continuing to ruthlessly stay in power and prevent change.
Moreover, thousands arrested are being tried in military courts, denying them due process or judicial fairness. Allowed only court-appointed counsel, attorneys get minutes with clients to review charges before presenting their case in proceedings.
In addition, multiple defendants are tried simultaneously. Ten thousand or more were sentenced in recent months, some to death, and lawyers can't appeal. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) attorney Adel Ramadan said nothing under Mubarak was like this. The ruling junta is much more extreme, cracking down ruthlessly against challenges to its authority.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued a July 4 press release, stating "its utter and complete rejection of trying civilians before military courts, especially those arrested for using their legitimate right to expression."
Many activists were tried and convicted, including Michael Nabil, sentenced to three years in military prison for posting, "Army and people, never hand in hand." Another activist, Amr elBeheiry, got five years for demonstrating in Tahrir Square.
ANHRI said military proceedings "lack the bare minimum of fair trial standards....It is not an overstatement to say that (Egypt's) judiciary (isn't) the only sector that has not witnessed any changes after the revolution."
On June 29, Amnesty International (AI) Cairo representatives witnessed security forces attacking demonstrators, "firing tear gas randomly, beating protesters with sticks and firing shotguns." As a result, many hundreds were hurt, AI saying:
"This heavy-handed response is reminiscent of the violence in January and is a chilling reminder of" what protesters face. Field Marshall Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's former defense minister, now heads the military junta's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, ruling as a de facto head of state/dictator.
Mubarak may be gone, but nothing changed. In fact, things now are worse, including extreme brutality and severe repression, exceeding what went on earlier. As a result, angry Egyptians are reacting.
On July 1, tens of thousands rallied in Cairo, responding to earlier in the week crackdowns against protesters. Security forces attacked them with tear gas, rubber bullets and live fire. According to eye-witnesses, hundreds were injured and several or more died.
Called the "Friday of Retribution," crowds also turned out in Alexandria, Suez, and elsewhere, protesting for rights demanded but not achieved. Many want a second revolution that works this time. Months after Mubarak's ouster, nothing changed.
Strikes also continue for wage, benefits, ending corruption, and other demands not met. Thousands of striking Suez Canal workers cut off Port Tawfik district electricity, saying they'll stay out as long as it takes, despite harsh military reprisals.
Quena governorate health workers also struck for permanent contracts, steady jobs, and higher wages in a nation plagued by high unemployment, poverty pay and sharply rising food, energy and other prices.
In early July, 3,000 Nagaa Hammadi Sugar Factory workers struck, demanding higher wages, a monthly bonus, hazardous pay, better working conditions, and permanent employment. At the same time, the Swiss Company for Stainless Steel Sinks walked out with similar grievances.
Notably, Washington backs brutal junta rule, including violence against growing public opposition to prevent a "second revolution." So does National Association for Change leader Mohamad ElBaradei, saying he regards the military as the main guarantor of Egypt's "incipient democracy," when, in fact, none exists, isn't planned, and won't be tolerated by junta generals, top Obama administration officials, or himself, based on his offensive comment and others earlier.
From around March to July 7, Al Jazeera reported little about Egyptian discontent, strikes, street protests and brutal security force crackdowns, including the mass July 1 street protests and a million or more coming out on July 8.
Late in the day Friday, it finally noticed, saying:
"Thousands (not hundreds of thousands) have flooded (Tahri) and other rallying points across the country to demand immediate reforms and swifter prosecution of former (Mubarak) officials...."
Earlier in the day, China Xinhua News Agency's CNC World TV, its new international news channel, said:
A July 8 mass Tahrir Square protest is planned, "aimed at spurring faster reforms and swift punishment of allies of the toppled President....Tens of thousands have already pitched (tents) in the square (for) a demonstration (called) 'The Revolution First.' "
Grievances include lack of change and security force violence, one demonstrator saying:
"I demand justice for our martyrs who were killed during the revolution. Justice is the basis of any sovereignty; it's the foundation of the country."
Another demanded "retaliation and trials of the traitors and murderers who killed out martyrs and wronged us, including those ministers who have just been acquitted."
On July 8, a million or more are expected in Cairo's Tahrir as well as many others across Egypt.
Around mid-day July 8, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians were reported heading for Tahrir, the Italian news agency AGI saying:
"Five months after the toppling of Mubarak, thousands of protesters have once again gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square....for another day of protest dubbed the 'Friday of Punishment and Perseverance.'....One million people are expected" to participate.
As of mid-day July 8 EDT, The New York Times reported nothing, but the New York Daily Times headlined, "Thousands in Tahrir Square ahead of mass rallies," saying:
"Dozens of tents were pitched in the middle of the square" ahead of the mass protest planned "to express mounting frustration with....the slow pace of reform."
Fridays after prayers, mass protests again express public anger for lack of change. Moreover, popular calls recently for a "second revolution" characterize growing outrage across Egypt, specifically targeting Tantawi's-junta.
A Suez protester spoke for others saying "one wasn't enough." Another said, "I can now tell you the revolution is not over. Everything is as it is, only the heads have been hunted but the body is still corrupt." Workers said "Next, we will take action against the strategic waterway." So will others elsewhere across the country, doing what they have to for change.
Egypt's again on the boil. In fact, since Mubarak's February 11 ouster, it restlessly subsided to a simmer, ready to again erupt if promised spring didn't bloom. The same determination is palpable elsewhere in the region, across Europe and elsewhere.
It highlights trends watcher Gerald Celente's belief that, "When people lose everything and have nothing else to lose, they lose it."
Given political indifference to popular needs and demands, it may erupt anywhere, even among apathetic Americans, prioritizing bread and circus considerations over grassroots activism against Washington's contempt for their interests.
Sooner or later perhaps popular anger will finally boil over and bite. Pray it happens soon before planet earth goes up in flames, taking freedoms with it.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|