Press release: Protesters are being brutalized in Tahrir Square right now – 500+ protesters violently forced into pens, others barricaded in their hotels

on 76 Comments

From a Gaza Freedom March press release:

Members of the Gaza Freedom March are being forcibly detained in hotels around town (Lotus, Liala) as well as violently forced into pens in Tahrir Square by Egyptian police and additional security forces. Reports of police brutality are flooding a delegate legal hotline faster than the legal support team can answer the calls. The reports span from women being kicked, beaten to the ground and dragged into pens, at least one confirmed account of broken ribs, and many left bloody. The assault is ongoing, legal team and other spokespeople can be reached at the Nile Hotel or by contacting the phone numbers listed above.

The Gaza Freedom March was organized to focus attention on the one-year mark since Israel’s 22-day assault, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, injured more than 5,000. Although the invasion technically ended, the effects on the ground have only worsened in the past 12 months. No re-building materials have been allowed in and more than 80 percent of Gazans are now dependent on handouts for food.

The marchers had planned to enter Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah Crossing on Dec. 27, then to join with an estimated 50,000 Palestinian residents to march to Erez Crossing into Israel to peacefully demand an end to the siege. However, the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced just days before the hundreds of delegates began arriving in Cairo that the march would not be allowed to go forward. It cited ongoing tensions at the border. When marchers demonstrated against the decision, the government cracked down, often using heavily armed riot police to encircle and intimidate the nonviolent marchers.

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76 Responses

  1. Oscar
    December 31, 2009, 9:18 am

    Any word from Phil?

  2. Oscar
    December 31, 2009, 9:49 am

    FLASH: French delegate killed by Egyptian riot police. link to

    • Nth Republic
      December 31, 2009, 10:05 am

      Correction from Ma’an:

      A French woman, Marie Renee, died but was not present at any of the protests and reportedly had a heart attack Wednesday afternoon.

      • yonira
        December 31, 2009, 10:09 am

        didn’t see that coming at all.

  3. potsherd
    December 31, 2009, 9:59 am

    While the MSM report the riots in Teheran, nothing from Cairo.

    • Citizen
      December 31, 2009, 10:11 am

      BBC News has finally reported what’s going on in Cairo:
      link to

      BTW, Gaza tweet says no Gaza marcher died; it is only a rumor–don’t know
      if the tweet is talking about Marie Renee…

  4. Oscar
    December 31, 2009, 10:14 am

    Here’s some video from today’s protests — Egyptian police beating protesters.
    link to

    • Richard Witty
      December 31, 2009, 10:39 am

      I didn’t see “beating” in that. Did you?

      Did the beating happen at another instant?

      • Nth Republic
        December 31, 2009, 10:49 am

        Are you joking, Richard? This is exactly like the time you denied the undercover Israeli police in Bil3in were assaulting protesters in a video and I deconstructed it for you, step by step and using my own former military experience and you still played the blind man. If you can’t see it, you need to watch it again.

      • Richard Witty
        December 31, 2009, 10:51 am

        I didn’t see a beating. Did you?

        I’ve seen political beatings first hand. I’ve had ribs broken at demonstrations.


      • Nth Republic
        December 31, 2009, 11:02 am

        Ok I’ll do it again, sure. In the opening segment they’re pulling the activist by (I assume its a female) her hair, and I can’t imagine that feels great. The mukhabarat agent most prominent in the field of view hits the arms and hands of all of them to break their grip on her and also hits her repeatedly in the back. Then at 0:29 seconds a different mukhabarat agent kicks another activist who is being dragged away by multiple officers (“successfully subdued” in police terminology, a euphemism for “not needing further brutalization”) in the tailbone. For me, that qualifies as “beating”.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 11:22 am

        Do you see the Cairo police beating the Gaza protester here, Dick Witty?
        link to

      • Bravo
        December 31, 2009, 10:56 am

        Witty- What do you call a cop punching a person in the face repeatedly?

      • Richard Witty
        December 31, 2009, 11:05 am

        I didn’t see that. What time in the video did that occur?

      • Richard Witty
        December 31, 2009, 11:15 am

        I did see the arrest. That didn’t seem excessive, and the one kick. Not good, but not a beating.

        By beating I think of my experience in May Day, 1970, where one of the people I stayed with set a car on fire, was chased down by police on a motorcycle, run over (breaking his leg), then hit ten or so times while on the ground with a billy club.

        That was extreme. I would call a kick a kick.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 11:25 am

        Did the Gaza marcher set a car on fire?
        Your sense of proportion leaves something to be desired, Dick Witty. No wonder you diss the Goldstone Report. BTW, exactly where and when did you get your ribs broken in 1970? And what exactly were you protesting?

      • Shafiq
        December 31, 2009, 11:25 am

        And anything less than that is NOT a beating?

        I don’t know whether you heard about the London G20 protests earlier this year, but one of the videos showed a man getting hit, just once in what seemed like a relatively weak hit. Only that the man collapsed to the floor and later died of a heart attack.

  5. Eva Smagacz
    December 31, 2009, 10:19 am

    Self – censorship of MSM is sometimes mightier than any amount of external political pressure. I read reasonably objective and dispassionate assessments of I/P conflict from Pravda and Xinhua News Agency.
    Many anti-war marches in London are ignored or reported in such an obscure manner that you just miss them if you blink. (Unless you check Press tv and al-Jazeera)

    • yonira
      December 31, 2009, 10:29 am

      Press TV and al-Jazeera lost a lot of credibility w/ their latest claim about the death of Marie Renee. I applaud Ma’an for setting the record straight.

      • Nth Republic
        December 31, 2009, 10:41 am

        Al Jazeera reported on Marie Renee’s death? I didn’t see it on the English or Arabic website.

        And I still trust PressTV more than I do the New York Times or Yedioth Ahronoth, etc.

      • VR
        December 31, 2009, 11:12 am

        Hey yonira, here is the truth about the MSM you trust and praise so much (the next time you protest about “what did I defend” this will be part of the post) –



      • yonira
        December 31, 2009, 4:57 pm

        I have never mentioned anything about the MSM on here, why must you all make shit up, all the time?

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 5:02 pm

        Considering you were lying about what was on al-Jazeera, what makes you have any credibility now? As if we haven’t caught you vacillating in the past.

      • yonira
        January 1, 2010, 2:52 pm

        Al-Jazeera and Press TV both ran the that story. Don’t call me a liar, or at least prove that I lied.

      • Shafiq
        December 31, 2009, 11:32 am

        Accidental death claims happen all the time in the world of 24 hour news. You only need to look at the epic fails of the MSM networks to see that.

        Here’s an example from Fox – link to

      • yonira
        January 1, 2010, 2:57 pm

        Good Point Shafiq. Unfortunately Press TV is still running the same story w/ out giving the real story.

      • Shafiq
        January 1, 2010, 8:33 pm

        I lost faith in Press TV after its coverage of the Iranian elections. I have to accept that no news channel is 100% bias free, but their coverage of the elections bordered on farcical – very FOX News like.

      • yonira
        January 1, 2010, 8:52 pm

        What was wrong w/ their coverage? I actually had never heard of press TV before the link above.

      • MRW
        January 1, 2010, 9:42 pm

        Then you were lying when you wrote this yesterday?

        yonira December 31, 2009 at 10:29 am
        Press TV and al-Jazeera lost a lot of credibility w/ their latest claim about the death of Marie Renee. I applaud Ma’an for setting the record straight.

      • Shafiq
        January 2, 2010, 2:03 am

        Well, Press TV’s run by the Iranian state. Its coverage of the election and its aftermath was grossly one-sided

  6. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 10:19 am

    Reuters is stressing the positive in its headline coverage–that Egypt is letting in some protesters to Gaza:
    link to

  7. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 10:24 am

    Demonstrations in Ireland, for example this one scheduled for tomorrow in Galway:
    link to

  8. Elliot
    December 31, 2009, 10:28 am

    For USians, Egyptian embassy’s telephone number is: (202) 895-5400. When the outgoing message starts, press “0” for operator and ask to lodge a protest. They have a voicemail set up for this.

  9. MRW
    December 31, 2009, 10:31 am

    This is a better Indymedia Ireland link. The other one didn’t work. This is the homepage for news links.
    link to

    Here’s one with the Irish women
    link to

  10. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 10:39 am

    Hedda Epstein today explains to people like Dick Witty as to why she is with Phil in Cairo, rather than supporting the likes of Dick Witty on this blog:
    link to

    • Richard Witty
      December 31, 2009, 10:47 am

      “The likes of Dick Witty”.

      She is more like me than unlike me.

      I assume that in 2001, she demonstrated in the West Bank to protest the orchestrated murders of octogenarian Jewish Passover celebrants in Tel Aviv that were murdered by Hamas suicide bombers.

      I fasted a day for each of three months in public support of Gazan civilians, you name-calling bigot.

      If you think that is apologist for likud, you have your head in a dark place.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 10:59 am

        I didn’t call you any name. I simply referred to people coming to this blog, especially the regulars who know your comment trail well, the words of Hedda Epstein–it’s true I impliedly asked those familiar with your approach to compare Hedda Epstein’s approach, which is similar to Phil’s, not yours, and it’s fitting that she’s in Cairo with Phil, not typing out abstract red herrings as you do here from the comfort of your
        home in 98% Gentile USA. If you think Hedda Epstein is like you, I think it is you
        who have your head in a dark place. No regular commenters objecting to your comments’ content on this blog, nor Phil or Adam, would contest Hedda’s POV as shown by her referenced letter. So who’s the bigot? Who’s the name-caller? Let
        those here decide.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 11:08 am

        Also, Dick Witty, there’s a difference between “Hedda Epstein today explains to people like Dick Witty as to why she is with Phil in Cairo, rather than supporting the likes of Dick Witty on this blog:” and “you name-calling bigot.”

        We want to know what name I called you (other than Dick Witty)? We see you called me a pejorative name by definition: bigot.

      • Richard Witty
        December 31, 2009, 11:17 am

        Good setup. I feel like I should stay silent forever now.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 11:29 am

        Witty, you set yourself up. You are what you are; you just need to recognize it–I don’t have any hope of that after following your comments on this blog for over two years.

      • potsherd
        December 31, 2009, 5:17 pm

        Good! Silence forever!

        Or if you can’t manage that, then why don’t you try posting for a week without once using the words “I”, “me” or “my” or any other word referring to yourself.

      • potsherd
        December 31, 2009, 11:39 am

        She is more like me than unlike me.

        Your grossly inflated opinion of yourself reaches a new level, and I’m sure Epstein would be highly indignant to be compared with a liar who demonizes Hamas with every breath he takes – if she doesn’t just ROFL, as I suspect she might.

      • Richard Witty
        December 31, 2009, 11:44 am

        Obviously we are different. The commonality is sympathy for civilians.

        “Grossly inflated opinion of yourself”.

        You only know me through a single political litmus test of opposing militancy. That is a gamble judgement on your part.

      • Shafiq
        December 31, 2009, 11:54 am

        But the thing is that you don’t oppose militancy, nor partisanship. Every post is usually a weak attempt at defending Israel when it’s clear its actions are unjustifiable and/or a weak attempt to place the blame squarely on Hamas.

        To ‘prove’ that you do care about the Palestinians, you resort to meaningless gimmicks like fasting and praying (something btw, I see all too regularly in the Muslim world), instead of doing something productive to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians. You opposed this march, even though its sole aim was to bring desperately needed goods to Gaza.

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 11:56 am

        You don’t have sympathy for civilians, Witty. You deny that the Nakba took place and you characterized the Goldstone report as false. Time and time again, when we have articles detailing atrocities against Palestinians, you either steer the conversation toward trivial distractions, (“Are those cars?”) or you completely ignore the topic.

        You’re living, breathing proof that Zionism and humanism are mutually incompatible.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 12:02 pm

        You don’t oppose all militancy, Dick Witty. You never see any irony in the
        name IDF, or any insight in the counter IOF. But I bet you see it when it comes
        to USA military ventures.

      • potsherd
        December 31, 2009, 12:26 pm

        You only know me through a single political litmus test of opposing militancy.

        Self-delusion in every word.

  11. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 10:47 am

    Well, at least the march inside Gaza has apparently begun:
    link to

  12. Memphis
    December 31, 2009, 11:01 am

    For Canadians who want to call express support for the freedom march you can call The Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa (613) 234-4931 and the Consulate in Montreal (514) 866-8455

    I called them and got hung up on by both. I guess they don’t want to hear that they are lacking sovereignty, are just puppets for Israel and the U.S. and are helping contribute to gross violations of Human Rights.

  13. MRW
    December 31, 2009, 11:02 am

    Here is an overseas advertisement for the march:
    link to

  14. Memphis
    December 31, 2009, 11:04 am

    Lmfao, “I fasted…” I bet they’re real thankful for that. What kinda shit is that, that’s a cowards move, speak up for christ sake

  15. MRW
    December 31, 2009, 11:06 am

    Ms. Lawlor,who is from Limerick, said, ” It is really kicking off here. I have just been pulled off the street oposite the museum in Cairo by the hair by Egyptian police. Others are being kicked and punched.We are surrounded by hundreds of riot police. It is very rough here, but we are all still together.”

  16. Kathleen
    December 31, 2009, 11:22 am

    Amazing how much time Rachel Maddow and some others in the MSM gives to the Iranian protesters and not a whisper about the Gaza Freedom March, the Goldstone Report etc. And Rachel is our ” progressive media” outlet. Hooey.

    Her alleged human rights concerns only extend so far. Either she has her head up where the sun does not shine or her handlers just will not allow her to cover this story

    • Citizen
      December 31, 2009, 11:32 am

      Either way, she is complicit; and not a worthy news pundit or disseminator when it comes to the Middle East. She’s got the usual mote in her eye: PEP–or as I call it: LEP, liberal except for Palestine. That is , she’s a leper.

    • potsherd
      December 31, 2009, 11:36 am

      Katheen, I’m not sure why you fixate on Maddow. It is the entire US media system that is blacking out this event.

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 12:43 pm

        Probably because, like (although significantly less so) Obama, Maddow has been a disappointment to progressives. At least, in the specific regard that Kathleen points out.

        Maddow will spend time on the Iranian protesters (and rightly so, IMO). She even spent time on the use of force against protesters in Pittsburgh earlier this year. This? Completely off her radar. As our the involvement of the same corrupted government agencies and contractors vis-a-vis Israel-Palestine as well as Iraq and Afghanistan.

        I still watch her, she still has valuable information and analysis. But I’m still painfully aware of the donut hole in her reporting.

      • Kathleen
        January 1, 2010, 5:13 pm

        Exactly. She promotes herself as some activist focused on Human rights issues, Gays in Uganda, Iranian Protesters. But will not touch the I/P conflict just like everyone else in the MSM she fell in line. No Goldstone Report, no Rosen Weissman espionage investigation or dismissed trial, no Gaza Freedom March. Rachel has and continues to be promoted as out of the box. She keeps the I/P issue in the box in a closet. She is no different than the rest of the MSM on these critical issues. Silence out of Rachel

      • Cliff
        December 31, 2009, 1:07 pm

        People will fixate on Maddow because of her persona. She’s youthful/Liberal/etc. – she’s ‘that’ type of person + she’s on TV. So her PEP politics is especially visible and thus, draws more attention IMO.

        I don’t care what Anchor A B or C say because they are random, interchangeable, talking-heads. So is Maddow to an extent (certainly will be so in the future) but she’s got a personality and so when she’s being dishonest, it’s on a more personal level.

        Kind of why I was upset when Jon Stewart kept up w/ the hasbara quips in the Baltzer interview. This guy is a bleeding-heart Liberal, and he’s better than a lot of people. He chooses his guests right? So at least he isn’t blacking out the issue completely.

        But clearly, he can’t think critically about this conflict if he’s accepting A) the notion that ‘Iran’ or a leader – who isn’t the most powerful figure in Iran – saying it/he wants to ‘wipe off’ Israel from ‘the map’ or B) the plausibility of such a tactic.

        It’s this inane commentary that is used as a tactic by Zionists regularly to appeal the stupid and ignorant.

        There was some HuffPo slimeball saying that CODEPINK simply wants to ‘vilify’ American foreign policy. As if ‘American policy’ is a person, and CODEPINK told it that it looked fat in that dress or something.

        It’s just so stupid. They want to keep the discussion on that level. I wonder if Jon has read anything on the conflict? And then he ends by saying he’s an impartial observer? Are you kidding?

        I mean, we have supported colonizers and occupiers before and we shall continue to do so. We’re not a ‘family’ – we’re a State, a political entity – an empire. So we’re going to do what the people in-charge believe is best for the interests of their ‘group’ insofar as it doesn’t disturb the ‘sleeping beast’ (‘the people’).

        This conflict = reveals the pressure points in our society and in the political system of the West. Image vs. Reality (identity politics vs. the plain truth).

        Jon Stewart can go all out on someone who is anti-Gay or something (and he has). There he’ll humanize the gay person and blah blah. But he can’t possibly go beyond saying ‘both sides have made mistakes’ or ‘why can’t they get along, they’re so alike’.

        That kind of dishonest language (when Palestine is not simply occupied, it is being COLONIZED, when Palestinians are not simply being occupied, they are being subjugated and divided and oppressed) mystifies the conflict. Making everything seem as though it is on a logistical even plain.

        So while Maddow won’t say anything (because she’s a coward). Jon will go further, but will stop at that false picture of equal-blame because he’s more sincere (probably the most sincere talking-head).

      • jimby
        December 31, 2009, 1:29 pm

        Cliff, I imagine that Jon Stewart was under considerable pressure since we knew that Barghoutti and Balzar were going to be on her show in advance. Undoubtedly there was huge pressure on his sponsors and station to lighten up. I still admire him for even bringing the subject up. It seemed like a first, maybe was.

      • MRW
        December 31, 2009, 1:43 pm

        Glad you’re back, Cliff. Good comment. And yes, jimby, there were phone calls and screeching pressures (reported) put on Stewart not to put them on. Remember those three AIPAC or JDL people sitting in front of Adam that were escorted off the set for their hecking…never happened before in the 11-year world of The Daily Show.

      • potsherd
        December 31, 2009, 2:13 pm

        The only one I’ve ever heard say one word on the issue is Ron Reagan – and it was only one word. Maddow is just part of the crowd. And if I were going to choose a spokesperson I really wanted to be heard, it would be Olbermann – he has a larger audience than Maddow, Ed Shultz, any of those yammering liberal heads.

      • Chaos4700
        December 31, 2009, 2:15 pm

        Not only that but I think Olbermann has the integrity to treat the issue fairly. However brief it was, Olbermann when talking about Israel’s assault on Gaza a year ago at least spoke about it in a critical tone toward Israel’s concerted attacks on civilians.

      • VR
        December 31, 2009, 11:55 pm

        You know the funniest thing about this issue, and speaking up about it, the only one you find is the comedic parody on The Daily News, with Jon Stewart –


      • sammy
        January 1, 2010, 1:09 am

        I agree. Unlike Cliff, I don’t see Jon as repeating the hasbara points, I see it as Jon refuting them. The questions he asked are the questions one often hears in the US MMS and s lacking is the Palestinian voice that responds to it. Jon is aware that Americans who do not look beyond their borders are only subject to this hasbara and he took the opportunity to ask questions they would recognise. I think Barghouti could have done a better job of addressing it; he seemed more rehearsed than spontaneous. But perhaps, they did rehearse it? After all, there are probably limits to what Jon and his guests can say on the mainstream media without blowback from the paymasters.

      • Kathleen
        January 1, 2010, 6:11 pm

        Stewart’s show just opened up a bit the last year. Brought up the Aipac/Rosen/Weissman espionage investigation..once. But before this year Stewart’s PEP (progressive except for Palestine) status was very obvious. He would criticize most other world leaders, religious figures , policies but not Israel’s Very very obvious

  17. potsherd
    December 31, 2009, 11:29 am

    The news blackout on the Gaza march continues, with a few voices in obscure online venues – not all positive.

    link to

  18. Citizen
    December 31, 2009, 11:47 am

    HUFFPO runs a Gaza now piece that is straight hasbara as to the historical run up to OP Cast Lead:
    link to

    • Richard Witty
      December 31, 2009, 11:52 am

      My criticism is more limited.

      • Citizen
        December 31, 2009, 12:08 pm

        Of course, you agree with the Huffpo article’s fictional rendition of the lead up to OP Cast Lead even though its been debunked by many reputable pundits, including Finklestein and Chomsky, and many, many commenters here who exhibited reliable sources for what they said.

  19. David
    December 31, 2009, 2:08 pm

    CNN has coverage now, although it’s buried on their website. This headline is running on their network ticker, though, at least at the time of my lunch break:
    link to

  20. potsherd
    January 1, 2010, 6:26 pm

    A very brief mention from the Chicago Tribune.

    link to

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