A few dozen disabled people continued their sit-in at the presidential palace in Heliopolis after a violent crackdown on Sunday night.
The demands of the protesters included better rights and representation, such as the right to work and the housing. They demanded that institutions which didn’t meet the government requirement of having a five per cent minimum of disabled employees, are fined a sum between EGP 10,000 and EGP 100,000. According to the protesters, the number of disabled people in Egypt is 12 million. The protesters have not met with President Mohamed Morsy yet, despite camping outside the palace for days.
Ramez Abbas who was there during the crackdown, said the protesters were marching towards the presidential palace and then were stopped by the police. Samir Al-Feky said protesters then moved onto the street instead of staying on the sidewalk, and were severely beaten. He added even women were dragged on the ground by the police.
Ashour Hamouda went to the Heliopolis police department after the crackdown along with Abbas to file a complaint against the police, only to find a complaint had been filed against the protesters for blocking the road. Hamouda and a few other protesters were told they would have to stay in the police station for investigations until the morning, but pressure from political parties and movements secured their release. “The international agreement to which Egypt is signatory doesn’t allow the detention of disabled people,” Hamouda said.
Ahmed Fathy, one of the protesters, displayed his torn shirt, saying it was from the beating he received on Sunday night. He says he was beaten and told to get up. When he refused, someone from the police picked him up and threw him. He hit his head and passed out.
Al-Seba’y Bahey-Al-Din was organiser of the sit-in. “All sectors of society, whenever, they go and hold a sit-in, they get their rights and what they want. We as disabled people, have been quiet and we’ve only been communicating with officials, asking for our rights but no one has responded to us,” he said. Bahey-Al-Din wants disabled people to live a dignified life, including having health insurance and being able to use public transport. He said inside the metro someone has to carry him because the door of the metro is too narrow for him to go through on the wheelchair. He also wants political representation and participation for disabled people including in the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council.
Sobhy Abdel-Ma’asood Hendawy, who’s been in the sit-in since it started last Wednesday, said that he was on a short break from the sit-in when the beating of protesters started on Sunday night. Someone in the sit-in called him and said that the police was beating them so he rushed to the sit-in to find, “Major General Ahmed Hendi and another lieutenant colonel, if you could see the humiliation and beating they subjected the people to…
This is a disabled person using crutches or sitting on a wheelchair,” Hendawy said.
Hendawy showed Daily News Egypt his wheelchair which he said was broken by police. He said the protesters had an official permit from the Ministry of Interior for a peaceful sit-in, “why did the police attack us?” he said.