CAIRO: Around 20 people were arrested yesterday in Cairo during rallies and protests organized in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas to commemorate the third anniversary of the January 2011 Mohamed Mahmoud Clashes in which dozens were killed in clashes with security forces.
At least some of the detainees were released, according to the independent group supporting detainees Freedom for the Brave. The group Wednesday published the names of 24 young men and women who had been arrested on their official Facebook page. The group said it was following up on the situation with rights lawyers.
“All of the people arrested were released with the exception of three, who should be transferred to the Abdeen prosecution authorities Thursday,” the group reported. Ministry of Interior forces were seen in force early Wednesday morning Downtown, Yanair Gate said.
The Mohamed Mahmoud Clashes are believed to be one of the bloodiest post-revolution incidents of 2011. Clashes between protesters and security forces lasted from Nov. 19 to Nov. 25 after activists called for protests to urge the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)—in temporary power since February—to prepare presidential elections.
Protesters gathered at Tahrir Square on Nov. 18, and were joined by Muslim Brotherhood youth. By nightfall, most had left with the exception of a small group which decided to proceed with an open sit-in at the square. The protesters were attacked violently by Central Security Forces on that night, and others were arrested.
The Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) condemned the security forces in a statement released the next day describing the excessive use of force as “a dangerous turn in the course of action in Egypt, which suggests that not much has changed since the January 25 Revolution, as the police continue to abuse peaceful protesters.” The organization also demanded an immediate and urgent investigation into the incidents.
However, in the days that followed, the situation escalated and moved from the square to Mohamed Mahmoud Street, a side street near the Ministry of Interior’s headquarters. The clashes in Tahrir Square continued, and police used heavy amounts of tear gas.
Furthermore, security forces used birdshot, and a number of injuries were reported among activists and journalists. In all, at least 20 protesters were killed and 1,800 were injured during the clashes. Dozens of the protesters, including many political and human rights activists, were arrested randomly and sent to Central Security camps, EOHR stated on Nov. 21.
It noted that most injuries were in the face and eyes. “During the clashes, I saw a Central Security officer who was extremely active in using birdshot,” Al-Masry Al-Youm photojournalist Ahmed Abdel Fattah—who was shot in the eye—would later testify.
The public became outraged with the man they called “the eye-shooter.” EOHR said it filed an official report against police officer Mohamed Sobhi Shinnawi on Nov. 22, after he “appeared in a video shooting the civil protesters in Tahrir Square.”
The incidents were also a turning point for the Muslim Brotherhood, which had by then been integrated into the January 25 revolution. On Nov. 25, masses took to the streets for a “million-man march,” but the MB Freedom and Justice Party announced it was not going to participate, which some protesters considered a betrayal.
Al-Ahram and Al-Wafd used Wednesday headlines not to criticize the military-led government for killing civilians, but instead wrote “Mohamed Mahmoud, the Commemoration of the Revolution Standing Still,” and “The Betrayal of the Muslim Brotherhood.”