Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Microbus drivers launch strike after police kills co-worker

Mada Masr
Maadi microbus drivers launch strike after police fatally shoot colleague

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mohamed Hamama

Scores of microbus drivers began striking in Cairo’s Maadi district early Monday morning in protest over the fatal shooting of a fellow driver by police earlier in the day.

The strike left throngs of commuters stranded in several parts of Maadi, particularly Al-Arab and Street Seven neighborhoods.

A driver participating in the strike, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Mada Masr that the microbus driver was killed after a minor collision with a police vehicle under a bridge on the ring road in Maadi’s Saqr Qureish neighborhood. They quarreled, and then the officer took out his weapon and shot the microbus driver in the head, his colleague reported.

The Ministry of Interior presented a slightly different account of the event in a statement on Monday, asserting that a member of the Basateen Police Station, who had been called to resolve the quarrel, accidentally killed the driver. Upon arriving at the scene, he reportedly responded by "firing a warning shot in the air from the gun in his possession, which resulted in the accidental death of the driver."

Another striking driver, also speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the deceased driver as a 20-year-old from Beni Suef, known by the nickname “Gamal Julia.” The Ministry of Interior’s statement identified him as “Gamal,” with the initials “N.T.” Other striking drivers stated that their deceased colleague had been married for just under a month.

Despite the microbus strike, taxis and public buses continued to operate on Monday, prompting several drivers to form roadblocks to impede traffic. In some instances, striking drivers threatened other drivers who were not taking part in the collective action.

The fatality in Maadi is the latest in a string of similar incidents in which police have killed unarmed civilians in recent months.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo’s Darb al-Ahmar in February, following the fatal shooting of a civilian by a police officer, leading to clashes between angry residents and police forces in the heavily populated district.

In April, a tea vendor was shot and killed by a police officer outside Rehab City in New Cairo. The officer reportedly opened fire on the vendor following an argument over the price of a tea. Two passersby were reportedly also injured in the shooting, according to a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.

According to the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence of Violence and Torture’s July report, 40 people across the country have died as a result of police brutality this year.

In mid-August, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi introduced amendments to provisions of the police authority law, after Parliament approved the legislation earlier in the month. The amendments impose greater restrictions on the police's use of force and firearms in incidents which do not warrant such a response.

The amendments also mandated that police personnel should not be in constant possession of state-issued firearms, stipulating that they submit their weapons to storage facilities designated by their presiding officers at the conclusion of each shift, except in cases where a presiding officer or authority judges that it is necessary to maintain possession.

The privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported that the Ministry of Interior had moved to keep more than 90 percent of low-ranking police officers from constantly possessing state-issued firearms. According to sources from the Interior Ministry, only a few exceptions have been made to the new regulation — for members actively serving police investigation units and to ensure the security of police directorates, departments and stations.

*Translated by Jano Charbel

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