Candlelit Vigil to Honor Martyrs of the Maspero Massacre
Friday, 12th October 2012, 7:00 PM
Union Square, Manhattan
October 9, 2012 marked the one year anniversary of what has come to be known as the Maspero massacre, one of the numerous bloody attacks deliberately orchestrated and executed by counterrevolutionary forces under the direction of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), during the ongoing popular revolution in Egypt calling for bread, freedom, and social justice.
The Maspero march was organized in resistance to sectarian tactics of the regime. Led by Coptic Christians and joined by broad sections of Egyptian society, together they raised the banner of revolutionary unity, reiterating demands for social justice, an end to military rule and repression, and accountability for crimes committed against Egyptians. The demonstrators were met with merciless brutality that continues to haunt the hearts and minds of all who witnessed it to this day. Military vehicles zigzagged indiscriminately across the streets, flattening protesters to death, and fired live ammunition at swathes of civilians. Meanwhile, state TV channels aired false and blatantly sectarian reports inciting ‘Muslims’ to battle with ‘Christians’ ‘in defense of the Egyptian army.’
The Maspero massacre resulted in the murder of 28 protesters and severe injury to over 200, nearly all of whom were Copts. It marked one of the most disturbing moments in Egypt’s revolutionary struggle. Despite the recent election of Mohammed Morsi, the first so-called ‘civilian president’ in Egypt, full immunity has been granted to SCAF members from prosecution for crimes against civilians, resulting in continued inhumane policies of the Mubarak era’s emergency laws and its successive military rule. This has included: criminalizing dissent, cracking down on worker strikes and demonstrations, refusing transparency over military budget and the country’s economy (an estimated 20-40% of which is under the army’s control), and continuing to accept military aid from the United States, which is often used to repress, torture, and kill Egyptian people.
On October 8th of 2012, Morsi’s administration released a ‘presidential pardon for the unconditional release’ of political prisoners arrested during the ‘transitional period.’ This mandate contains deeply problematic categories and selective timeframes that divide the revolutionaries between those registered as ‘protesters,’ and the remaining civilians, many of whom are minors who faced non-political charges and were also subject to military tribunals. The ‘pardon’ not only exhausts the extension of constitutional protections to civilians detained by non-civilian entities such as SCAF, it sets a dangerous legal precedent for the arrest of civilians without proper investigation or due process.
While this ‘pardon’ is surely a partial victory won by the tireless efforts of groups like “No to Military Trials” and many other revolutionaries who have fought to pressure the authorities, it is ultimately a political move to pre-empt this week’s planned demonstrations on matters of social justice. Morsi’s government has consistently failed to address the calls for structural change in the latest strikes across the country by doctors, teachers, and students, industrial and public service workers, rural communities, and more.
The revolution did not end when Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011, and it certainly did not end when remnants of the old regime were defeated in the June 2012 presidential elections. Regardless of who is in power, the Egyptian revolution will continue to fight for bread, freedom, and social justice, alongside retribution for the martyrs, their families, and the countless Egyptians who gave their lives to this struggle.
We echo, reiterate, and support the demands of Egyptian revolutionary forces for the following:
- The unconditional release of all imprisoned civilians subject to or pending military trials and legislation.
- Accountability from all institutional forces participating in the counterrevolution: chiefly SCAF, remnants of the old regime, and the current Morsi government.
- An immediate end to military and emergency law in the repression of dissent, and all US military and police aid to Egypt.
For more information, visit <www.defendegyptianrevolution.org>.