Mubarak Offers Concessions At Mahalla, Election has Very Low Turnout

Per Bjorklund, Mahalla el Kubra

Demonstrators outside Mahalla police station demanded the release of more than 150 people – including many children – that was arrested during protests the previous day.
Photo by Per Bjorklund, Mahalla el Kubra, 2008-04-07.

See 3arabawy for more reports. Excerpts-

The Textile Workers’ League activists Kamal el-Fayoumi and Kareem el-Beheiri, as well as a number of the Mahalla detainees, are currently undergoing interrogation at the Tanta Prosecutor’s Office. I have a report from an activist, which I couldn’t confirm yet, that Kareem was subject to severe beatings in police custody.

The HMLC blog is reporting that Ghazl el-Mahalla blogger Kareem el-Beheiri said he was taken blindfolded to an unknown place by the police, where he was beaten up and subjected to electric shocks.

I spoke with an activist in Mahalla.. He says Nazif promised all workers in the textile sector a 15-day bonus, and the workers in Mahalla specifically will get a one month bonus. The ministers also promised injecting LE400,000 into the Ghazl el-Mahalla company to modernize it, together with the transportation services for the workers, opening up outlets for Consumer Cooperatives in the company compound (where subsidized food would be sold), increase the number of doctors at the General Mahalla Hospital, increase the supply of flour aimed at the Mahalla bakeries.

“workers” who attended [the ministerial meeting] were from the management, as well as the govt-backed trade unionists, State Security agents in plainclothes, NDP members in Mahalla, and a selected number of workers

wide scale intimidation by the uniformed police and plainclothes thugs against journalists and photographers in the streets.

Al Jazeera says of the election-

Egyptians have largely stayed away from local elections in which the ruling party was guaranteed victory after many opposition candidates were barred from standing. Only 30 per cent of the 52,000 council seats were actually contested in Tuesday’s vote, which was overshadowed by protests over high prices and low wages. The Muslim Brotherhood had pulled out of the elections and called on Egyptians to boycott the polls in protest at the disqualification and imprisonment of most of its candidates by the authorities.

The next presidential election is set for 2011, with many expecting the veteran 79-year-old Mubarak to stand down in favour of his son, Gamal Mubarak, a senior NDP member.

We love it when our friends oppress their peoples. Hang on I’m just going to look up the definition of democracy, maybe I’ve got things all wrong… (Hey how about the Olympics for Cairo?… Anyone?)

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Bravo Jon Kelly at the BBC

A nice piece about how people on low wages are betrayed by the Labour government’s recent tax changes-

Hoarding loose change. Always having to buy the cheapest groceries. Dreading the arrival of utility bills through the door. Britain’s low earners say their lives are already difficult enough. But changes to the tax system could mean that making ends meet becomes even harder for many.

Under the new system, standard income tax has been cut from 22% to 20% and tax credits raised – but the lowest 10p band has been scrapped entirely…

“As it is I always try to buy the cheapest own-brand groceries but it’s never enough. I’d love a fresh wardrobe but I can’t remember the last time I bought new clothes. I don’t think it should be people on low incomes who have to pay more. It should be those with higher incomes – like MPs.”

Blog Solidarity, Racists Attack!

Via Tom @ Automatic Preference, The Angry Black Woman blog is under attack by racist white supremacist scum. She responded to Pat Buchanan’s idiot racism (mentioned here) and whitey shit for brains wet their pants and are attacking her. So show some solidarity and show those nazi idiots where to go.

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Put Down The Language & Move Away From The Zeitgeist

Surge, Pause? You mean reinforcements and not withdrawing? Every fucking time the newspeak PR nonsense they use to mask reality is repeated without comment it gains power and succeeds in corrupting language to the benefit of warmongering imperial filth. I mean I don’t want to get all Politics and the English Language on your ass but just stop it, Petraeus is a right wing politician in a uniform. Stop repeating his corrupt euphemisms. And his war pimping over Iran. You’ve been told!

When You’re Trying To Avoid Apartheid Comparisons

It helps if you don’t shut down a radio station run by a South African modelled on post apartheid reconciliation –

Police on Monday closed the Jerusalem studio of Ram FM, an English-language West Bank radio station that plays Western music in a stated mission to bring Israelis and Palestinians together.

“We instructed the police to close the station in Jerusalem because they were broadcasting without a permit,” said a Communications Ministry official. “They interfere with airwaves and endanger airport signals,” he added.

The station replied in a statement that it had not broken the law. Police shut down the transmitter and closed the studio, taking staff for questioning and hauling away equipment in Monday’s raid, but the station remained on the air via its West Bank frequency 93.6.

Owned by a South African Jewish businessman, it is modeled after a South African station that provided a venue for reconciliation after apartheid. The station’s tens of thousands of listeners include Palestinians, settlers and foreign diplomats, a portion of whom participate in its talkback segments.

Update: They arrested 7 staff who today have been released, oh the democracy!

Egypt Fighting Shock Treatment

Unaligned with the west Mugabe’s oppression of Zimbabwe is common news fodder, global investors are waiting in the wings to do deals with a new administration, to implement further shocks and profit from opening up Zimbabwe, frying pan…fire. The reason Mubarak’s similar repressions go unremarked is because Egypt is aligned with the empire, second biggest recipient of US money after Israel, and because the repression is in order to inflict a neo-liberal economy where the rich will profit more than ever and poverty will overwhelm the people. America also needs Egypt to help maintain its sphere of influence over that lovely, lovely oil rich region. The news of resistance and the merciless attacks on strikers and organisers, the infiltration by secret police, intimidation, arrest and torture is confined to less corporate news sources. Great coverage at 3arabawy, constant updating and pictures, some excerpts (for full context and links visit 3arabawy)-

Egyptian security forces arrested over one hundred opposition activists across the country, seriously injured another eighty protesting residents and workers in the city of Al-Mahalla, and reportedly killed two of these locals while putting down this protest – all this on April 6 – the day on which a general strike and popular protests were planned against the sky-rocketing prices of commodities and services.

A statement by the Mahalla-based Afaq Socialist Center provides some details about the events, and accuses Mohamed el-Attar, Sayyed Habib, Magdi Sharif, Faisal Laqousha and Abdel Qader el-Deeb of touring the Ghazl el-Mahalla Company factories on the previous day trying to persuade the workers not to strike…

an “unprecedented campaign of intimidation by the Ministry of Interior, and a vast mobilization of state security,”

I’ve spoken with Kareem el-Beheiri, who’s on the run now… Kareem says hundreds were detained today in Mahalla including minors… Anyone nabbed was abused also by the police. Children were beaten up with sticks, sacks full of rocks, punches, kicks… Lawyers who showed up to defend the detainees were chased by sword-wielding plainclothes police thugs…

Mahalla is under “unofficial” curfew, according to an activist in the city I’ve just spoken with.. The town is occupied entirely by Mubarak’s Central Security Forces who managed to pacify the city by 10pm.. Citizens are instructed by microphones to stay in their homes…

Blogger Mohamed el-Sharqawi was taken from his home by the police to be interrogated at the 6th of October City Prosecution office.. Malek is still locked up in Masr el-Qadima Police Station, though police denies any knowledge of his existence…

I spoke with an activist inside the factory:
“Plainclothes.. Plainclothes.. No uniformed ones inside.. All agents are in plainclothes. State Security, police, thugs.. There are even people from the Mukhabarrat here… All uniformed personnel were withdrawn from the factory and replaced with those plainclothes agents..”

Prosecutor ordered the detention of blogger Mohamed el-Sharqawi and Kefaya’s Mohamed el-Ashqar for 15 days pending investigation… A solidarity committee has been set up to support the detainees.. WE NEED DONATIONS FOR THE DETAINEES in Cairo, Mahalla and the other provinces.. If you are in Cairo, just go to the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (1 Souq el-Tawfiqiya St) and see how you can help…

the Mubarak regime in retaliation decided to occupy El-Mahalla complex with security forces, abduct strike committee leaders Kamal El-Faioumy and Tarek Amin, arrest political activists of every political tendency in Cairo and other cities.

So go to 3arabawy, (also see Complex & Lenin).

Posted in Class War, Imperialism, Labour rights, Militarism, Shock Doctrine. Tags: , . Comments Off on Egypt Fighting Shock Treatment