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Hard to suppress: Anti-government villages remain problematic for security - Daily News Egypt

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Hard to suppress: Anti-government villages remain problematic for security

Spots like Kerdasa, Delga are among most prominent consequences of Brotherhood regime, according to former Interior Ministry spokesperson


Al-sisi state

 

 

On 14 August 2013, Special Forces from the Egyptian riot police, accompanied by infantry troops, forcefully dispersed the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit in, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of protesters.

 AFP FILE PHOTO / STR
AFP FILE PHOTO / STR

Upon hearing the news, thousands of pro-Morsi supporters and Muslim Brotherhood affiliates mobilised in anger against state institutions, pro-army protesters, and Christians.

The violence targeted elements that were thought to have participated in the “massacre” in Rabaa Al-Adaweya – as described by pro-Morsi media outlets which broadcast images of tens of bodies wrapped in white shrouds, while field doctors tried save what they could.

No Egyptian governorate survived the violent reactions, leading to a curfew and more deaths in the following days. Currently thousands of Morsi supporters are standing trial in Egyptian courts on terrorism-related charges, murder, and possession of weapons.

The Egyptian government, along with its institutions, has asserted since 3 July that these villages are a result of the Brotherhood’s rule, which require a more strict reaction.

The fight against terrorism did not only take place in the media and in the state institution. Aside from the rhetoric of confronting extremism in mosques, churches, in diplomatic missions, police forces enhanced their equipment and riot control technique.

With the controversial Protest Law being implemented on every street gathering, the armament of the Central Security Forces have increased, to include more complex Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and diverse weapons – different from the batons and shields used during the 25 January Revolution.

As the cities are witnessing the result of the newly increasing security measures, tactics and equipment by riot police, the radicalism of the protests have decreased.

However, far away from the urban centres are the volatile villages.

AFP Photo
AFP Photo

Kerdasa

While police helicopters and snipers were surrounding Rabaa Al-Adaweya square, a village not far from the overcrowded Giza district of Cairo witnessed a more vicious reaction by the angry civilians who sought “to avenge their brothers and sisters blood”, raising violence in thevillage of Kerdasa.

The attackersstormed into the village’s police station using heavy weapons, leaving 14 policemen killed. At the time of the attacks, state media said the officers were tortured to death and some of the bodies were mutilated. Videotaped footage featuring dead officers was made available on the internet.

Dubbed the “Kerdasa massacre”,the incident was heavily propagated by the Egyptian state as one of the “crimes” of supporters of the former president Mohamed Morsi, who had last been seen on 3 July reading a statement from an office, before showing up in a trial on November 2013.

“For weeks after the Rabaa dispersal, residents of the villages were treated as criminals or murderers. Once you tell someone you are from Kerdasa, they designate you a ‘terrorist’,”said Mohamed, a student in Giza, who lives in Kerdasa.

On 19 September, a security operation in Kerdasa was launched in the early hours of the day by riot police, in cooperation with the armed forces.

The Interior Ministry justified the attack by saying it is anoperation thatcomes as “implementation of the prosecution’s orders to arrest a number of terrorists and fugitives” involved in the deadly attack on the Kerdasa police station in August 2013.

During the operation, which included heavily equipped forces from the army and the police, the Giza Deputy Director of Security, Nabil Farag, was shot dead at the beginning of the operation, reportedly by armed groups situated on the roofs of houses, schools and mosques in the area.

The ministry reported the arrest of more than 100 wanted persons who allegedlypossessed a large quantity of rifles, pistols, teargas canisters, as well as ammunition, among other weapons. Some of the seized weapons were found to belong to the Kerdasa police station.

Then Ministry spokesperson Hany Abdel Latif said on the morning of the operation, that it was divided into two parts: one was forming a siege around the village’s desert side, which was carried out by the military; and the other was “direct confrontation with terrorists and criminals”, adding that they will not retreat before “cleansingit of terrorist spots.”

The operation left nine security men with shrapnel wounds in various parts of their bodies.

“As the storming took place, the media dealt with Kerdasa as if it were the source of all troubles in the country,” Saed, a resident, added.

Almost two years after the post-Rabaa Al-Adaweya violence and raids, over 200 residents of the city received death sentences in two cases, one related to the “Kerdasa massacre” and the other related to the raid.

Among the accused isSomaya Shanan, who is charged with the mutilation of dead bodies during the attack on the Kerdasa police station. Shanan is the first woman to be handed a death sentence since the ouster of Morsi.

“Imagine, 200 families now are angry with the government, and are ready to get a call from the Prison Department saying that their relatives have been executed,” Saed said, adding that now more people go into weekly demonstrations to protest against the regime.

Saed argues that campaigns and the so-called “dawn raids”, which detain people from their homes, target people randomly. Sometimes police arrest people who are not even affiliated with the Brotherhood. “When arrested and beaten, the man’s family starts to take a more anti-government inclination, leading to more tension,” he added.

“The government and the intellectuals keep calling for reconciliation. How can you have peace with the people who know you might execute their own relatives any day,” Saed added.

Al-MaymounAl-Maymoun

‘Al-Maymoun against the coup’, ‘Ultras Al-Maymoun’, and the ‘ the Free of Al-Maymoun’ are examples of the social media pages that mobilise protesters every week in the village in Beni Suef governorate.

Away from the city and rural areas, Al-Maymoun has the advantage of narrow streets that allow for protests, and limit the presence of riot police. In 2014 alone, the village was raided four times.

“The four times [January, April, July, and November] the exact scenario took place. Armoured vehicles storm into the village at dawn, and arrest some youngsters. People gather to protest the arrests, and confront the police, resulting in clashes,” Ihab Khater, a 6 April Movement coordinator in Beni Suef said.

Every time the police forces only approach the side of the village that is close to the highway, so as not to risk getting inside the much tighter alleys.

In November 2014, a student was killed in the clashes as the Ministry of Interior was launching an attack to arrest “wanted elements”. Three narratives were given of the event.

The police said the security campaign in the governorate came “to counter all illegal practices and arrest suspects in the village”.

State media reported that police and army forces raided the village to break up a family feud.

Meanwhile, the family of the dead student said that their relative was shot on his way to work while the clashes were taking place.

DelgaDelga

What followed the ouster of formerpresident Morsi was a series of retaliations that included attacks on Coptic Christians. The majority of attacks on churches took place in Upper Egypt, but some happened in the village of Delga, in central Egypt.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), over 40 churches have been attacked in Egypt since 14 August 2013, when the security forces launched a bloody crackdown against demonstrations demanding Morsi’s return.

Islamists accused Egypt’s Copts of supporting the forced military ouster of Islamist president Morsi in July 2013. The perception was fuelled by Coptic Pope Tawadros II’s appearance with then-General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, when he spoke on television to announce Morsi’s removal from office.

Police forces carried out a campaign against “criminal spots” on 16 September 2013, arresting more than 50 fugitives.

Located in the governorate of Minya, Delga was surrounded for several days to “restore security and stability to the Egyptian streets”, officials said.

Local human rights reports said that the sectarian clashes started in Delga before the dispersals, as local youth roamed the streets repeating sectarian chants, which later escalated to looting and burning stores and homes, leaving two people dead.

During the campaign, protests continued in a step “to defy security forces”, with the Anti Coup Alliance (ACA) denying that any sectarian violence took place.

According to a witness: “Before the raid elders came out of the village to negotiate with the stationed forces to convince them there is no trouble in the village, we were met by heavy warning shots by the army where all the entrances of the village blocked. Helicopters were used for surveillance.”

The witness, who announced his support for the Brotherhood,added that the Egyptian pro-government media made the public ready to accept any violations in Delga by arguing that Christians are prosecuted.

Weekly protests “to support Morsi’s legitimacy” were well documented by media outlets known to have a bias against the current regime of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

The Muslim Brotherhood kept the narrative that the raids and the security operations were meant to increase tensions between citizens and the army, and that “hired thugs” were paid to burn the churches to “create the atmosphere that a sectarian conflict exists”.

NahiaNahia

Not far from notorious Kerdasa is Nahia, a village which was said during the post-Rabaa Al-Adaweya violence to be the refugee ofAl-Jamaa Al-Islamiya’s notorious leader, Tarek Al-Zomor. Al-Zomor isaccusedof inciting and participating in theBein Al-Sarayatclashes. He is currently in Qatar.

Nahia was raided on 24 September 2013, where riot police and members of the investigation bureau storming into a number of homes, arresting alleged terrorists and Brotherhood affiliates.

The official narrative argued that residents complained about the existence of “illegal” elements within the village.

“As the raid took place, the police were using microphones to call on people to hand in any members of the terrorist groups,” Mostafa, a hospital worker in the village, said.“They divided people into good and bad.”

Since then, Nahia has been raided every now and then, especially after the weekly Friday protests.

The latest raid surrounded the city after violence erupted on 25 January 2015.

The village has been a strong supporter to the calls of the pro-Morsi ACA, which calls for protests every week.The ACA isa group of Islamist parties formed in support of former president Mohamed Morsi.

AFP Photo
AFP Photo

Al-Basratah

The village remained quiet, having only the weekly silent protests and demonstrations where pro-Morsi demonstrators chant against the military and the army, call the 30 June mass protest a “coup”, and demand the restoration of the “legitimacy” and the return of Morsi.

Apart from a one day siege in September 2013, no clashes took place between civilians and security forces in 2014.

But at the beginning of May 2015, a protest was dispersed by the police, who arrested 13 female protesters and referred them to the prosecution on charges of protesting.

“Al-Basratah is a conservative village. Arresting women is not acceptable. This angered many people who escalated things to cutting the road of Damietta, resulting into a violent crackdown by security forces, which left one police conscript killed,” said the administrator of Al-Basratah Against the Coup.

Three days after the incident, security forces stormed the village, leaving at least four civilians and one policeman killed. The campaign arrested 18 people allegedly on charges of weapons possession.

“The mission was to arrest wanted ‘terrorist elements’, but as soon as our forces entered the village, they came under fire,” the police said.

“On that day the armoured vehicles surrounded the entrances and exits of the village, provoking the youth to stand up for their dignity. Some of them formed blockades and set fire to trash cans,” the administrator, who refused to give his real name, said.

The raid caused some schools to close their doors, and according to residents, the water was cut for more than 12 hours.

The Muslim Brotherhood commented on the event, as they described the violence as part of their resistance against the rule of the military, adding that their “revolution will not stop”.

Following the clashes, police forces raided several houses of individuals suspected of participating in the violence. A protester who participated in the violence said that thugs were helping the police in the dispersal of the protest. He added that some residents in the village participated in turning the protesters in to the police.

The protester added that more than 30 houses were raided by the police, adding: “Riot police surrounded the village of Al-Basratah with armoured cars and policemen in plain clothes.”

Al-Basratah was later described by pro-government newspapers as “Muslim Brotherhood stronghold”, while some commentators call on security forces to “treat the situation similarly to the one in Kerdasa”.

The Interior Ministry was asked to comment on “village raids”. It replied that no specific individual or civilian is targeted or arrested “unless enough investigations were made and a legal warrant exists”.

 

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