Tuesday, April 7, 2009

General Strike? Civil Disobedience? Day of Anger?

This Sixth of April "General Strike/Campaign of Civil Disobedience/Day of Anger" (call it what you will) was far weaker than last year's.

Action was practically limited to the confines of university campuses and to the stairs leading up to the Journalists' Syndicate in Downtown Cairo. There were reports of thousands of students demonstrating in 19 universities - from Assiut in the south of the country to Alexandria in the north. Two small demonstrations were also reported in the Nile Delta Governorate of Qalyubiya. Less than ten members of the group "Physicians Without Rights" demonstrated outside the Doctors' Syndicate in Cairo.

There was no popular uprising in Mahalla this year; and the planned demonstrations in central Cairo (outside the State Council Court, Egyptian Trade Union Federation HQs & Ministry of Information) were thwarted by thousands of police forces deployed there, including: Central Security Forces, State Security Officers, and plain-clothed police-thugs. A total of 23 arrests were reported.

In Cairo only hundreds were willing/able to demonstrate on the streets, eventually all activists and demonstrators were forced away, or made their ways to the Journalists' Syndicate - the only protest venue tolerated by the Egyptian police-state.

Around 300 Kifaya activists and members of the Karama Party, Labor Party, Ghad Party, and the Revolutionary socialists amongst others demonstrated outside the Journalists' Syndicate. These activists chanted slogans against Dictator Mubarak, the ruling National "Democratic" Party, and the criminal State Security apparatus.

They also reiterated their demands for: fixing wages to meet rising living expenses, setting the monthly minimum wage at LE 1,200 (less than US$220), the establishment of free trade unions, the release of political prisoners, and the cessation of gas exports to Israel, amongst other demands.

These demands are very praiseworthy and worthwhile, yet they are being raised by a political elite which is isolated from the grassroots labor movements. This political elite, especially the leadership of the overly-rhetorical opposition parties, has no standing to lead a general strike, or even call for one in the first place. As for campaigns of civil disobedience, they require much more than just emails, Facebook groups, and mobile text messages to organize.

Leave the general strike to the workers, leave the talking and hot-air to the political parties

All power to the independently-organized workers, students, peasants, and professionals of Egypt!

1 comment:

alzaher said...

i would say it was a day of anger
it is still too early to talk about a general strike in egypt
which i think will happen eventually