The military regime in Egypt used the third anniversary of the revolution to show off its grip on power.
As many as 100 people were killed and over 1,000 arrested. Two days later military leader General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was promoted to field marshal and cleared to stand in the presidential elections.
On 25 January, Cairo’s Tahrir Square was reserved for crowds celebrating the military and carrying posters of el-Sisi. Some carried posters of toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak. Helicopters dropped Egyptian flags on the crowds.
People who took to the streets to stand up against military rule faced violent and deadly repression. Revolutionary Socialist Hossam el-Hamalaway told Socialist Worker that “el-Sisi is becoming Egypt’s Pinochet”, referring to the dictator who took power in Chile in 1973.
Hossam said up to 2,000 joined a demonstration outside the Journalists’ Syndicate in Cairo.
This protest included Revolutionary Socialists and 6 April activists who campaigned against Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi. They have come together in the Revolutionary Front to oppose military rule.
Eyewitnesses told Socialist Worker that snipers picked out protesters.Hossam added, “Another group of demonstrators was going to head to Talaat Harb Square but this got stopped by the police, using live ammunition and bird shot.”
The scale of assault on protesters was so brutal that the Front eventually called its members off the streets to preserve their lives.
The Brotherhood still faces the harshest repression. At least 20 young people were gunned down in the street on a peaceful protest in Cairo’s Matariyya district.
One Revolutionary Socialist says the security forces’ brutality has led to “disorientation and frustration”. Lawyers who went to police stations to represent people who had been arrested found themselves imprisoned too.
A statement by the Revolutionary Socialists calls this a “period of counter-revolutionary offensive.” El-Sisi won the referendum on the new constitution, and is tipped to be the next president.
But even now the numbers mobilised by the army were in the tens of thousands—not the millions mobilised by the revolution over the last three years. And the vast majority of people under 30 did not vote.
The statement added, “el-Sisi’s regime can only continue on the basis of killing, repression, incitement and distortion against the revolution and revolutionaries.”
Those who have risen up will need the solidarity of socialists and activists across the world as the counter-revolution tries to close in.
A solidarity protest took place outside the Egyptian Embassy in London last week. Trade unionists from the PCS, RMT and UCU joined Egyptian activists. Similar protests took place in Toronto, Berlin, Ankara and Wellington. See report
The full statement from the Revolutionary Socialists is available on their new international website launched this week