uk occupy shows solidairty with the egyptian revolution
A small group of protesters set off from the OccupyLSX camp at St Paul’s Cathedral for a ‘tour of shame’, visiting the offices of 3 arms dealers, Qinetiq, BAE and Rolls Royce, who went with David Cameron to Egypt in February to sell arms to the Egyptian army. Bristol is home to the same three arms manufacturers.
The protest left just as the OccupyLSX ‘NOT the Lord Mayor’s Show’ festival was starting which perhaps accounted for only around thirty coming to join it. Among them were a number of Egyptians and Sam Weinstein of the US Utility Workers Union who has been in London sharing his experience of the Occupy movement in the US and was holding one end of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network banner.
Although the Egyptian Revolution toppled the Mubarek regime, the Egyptian people are not yet free, with the army in charge and using its influence to gain control under the new constituion. Since they took power there have been more than 12,000 trials in military courts, without the ability to call witnesses or access to lawyers in a programme of repression against the opposition.
Many have been sentenced to death, and torture remains widespread. Many of those imprisoned are underage and women have been subjected to rapes and sexual assault. On the 31 October, blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was imprisoned on false charges for an indefinite period.
The UK government supports the Egyptian military and helps UK arms manufacturers to sell them the army and police the weapons needed for repression. The protesters called on the UK government to withhold support to Egypt and stop arms sales until a civilian government dedicated to freedom and civil rights is in power in Egypt. They condemned police and military violence against peaceful protesters and in particular the Maspero massacre on 10 October 2011 where the military opened fire and 27 Coptic Christians were killed and 329 injured. They want an immediate end to the state of emergency which has been in place in Egypt for the past 30 years and for all political prisoners and detainees to be released or given a fair trial in civilian courts.