Alaa Abd El-Fattah to face further charges

=====Update!!! I  learned that some of the charges in the Shorouk  article that I translated  were not levied against Alaa, but were against others who were summoned alongside  him. The reporter in Shorouk failed to make that distinction. I would like to thank Moftasa for double checking the information and going through the trouble transcribing the lawyer’s statements. Find this and more at his  blog post here.

According to an article in Shorouk New, activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah is to face further charges for the bloody events that unfolded on October 9. It says (translated verbatim):

Shorouk news has received detailed information about the questioning/interrogation that were conducted by the high “emergency” prosecutor’s office with activist Alaa Abd El-Fattah. The latter being accused in the events that took place in Maspero (in-front of the state TV building) on the 9th of October; during which 27 lost their lives and 350 were injured. The number of accused persons, others than Alaa, in relations  to theses events stands at 31, and the case is numbered 391/2011.

The details that we have obtained reveal that three more charges have been pressed against Alaa, most alarmingly  is “willful killing for the purposes of executing a terrorist act”. This brings the total number of charges against Alaa to to twelve.

Abd El-Fattah arrived to the questioning session under heavy security from Tora prison, where he is incarcerated. The questioning session lasted for five hours nonstop. The head of the prosecutor’s office, Khaled Diaa’, along with general councilors Taher El-Kholy and Tamer El-Fergany, and also councilor Hisham Badawy who head the appeals court, have decided that Alaa should be detained for fifteen more days.

The head of the prosecutor’s office accused  Abd El-Fattah  of the following charges:

  1. Congregating with five others for the purposes of committing crimes
  2. Attacking uniformed men and violently resisting them 
  3. Violence, by carrying knives and fire arms that could cause death
  4. Willful killing for the purposes of executing a terrorist act
  5. Attempting  forceful entry of a public building (State Television at Maspero) 
  6. Attacking civil  servants
  7. Attacking persons, resulting in the death of conscript Mohamed Ali Sheeta
  8. Stealing under duress weapons and ammunition belonging to the armed forces
  9. Carrying unlicensed firearms 
  10. Purposefully vandalizing public buildings to realize terroristic ends
  11. Carrying “implements’ that can be used to attack person 
  12. Using such “implements” to disrupt public order. 

Abd El-Fattah categorically denied all the above charges. He insisted that he was not around while the deadly violence was taking place. He left his home that day after 9pm, i.e. three hours after the events. Abd El-Fattah stated that while the events were unfolding he was following an Arab bloggers  conference that  taking place in Tunisia. He latter met one of his friends at a subway station and left for Maspero. By the time he arrived there were no army personnel in the vicinity.

He added that he saw a number of thugs attacking the protesting Copts, afterwards a detachment from the central security services arrived and cordoned-off the Coptic protesters.  Later he left for Tahrir square.

Alaa made a point of mentioning the the military prosecutors office summoned him fourteen days after the events. There were no orders to incarcerate him given the seriousness of the charges.  At the time Alaa was out of the country and his family made a request to prosecutor to delay the summon. Upon his return, Alaa went to the military prosecutor’s  office where he was shocked to learn of the charges levied against him. He refused to acknowledge the military prosecutor’s authority in that case and was detained for fifteen days.

The prosecutors presented Alaa with “eyewitness” testimonies of Abdelaziz Fahmy (member of “Egypt the Free” party), and reporter Hana Khawasek.

Fahmy testified that on that day he was heading to the his party’s headquarters in Kasr El-Ainy St. to get some papers. On his way he learned about the large demonstration taking place at Maspero. He added that when he got there he found members of the April 6 youth movement and throngs of activists. The situation got more violent he saw members of the armed forces who were there to protect the building viciously attacked. He said, “while at Abdel Moniem Reyad Square I saw Alaa Abd El-Fatttah and number of his friends, including Wael Abbas and Baha Saber”. Fahmy insisted that “Alaa was agitating against the army since the 9th of March and that I heard him in Tahrir saying ‘We will teach the Army…we will cut off its hands'”. He added, “I saw Alaa with his friends mercilessly beating up a soldier and taking away his machine gun. Alaa then ran with it towards the Nile  and probably threw it there. Alaa then got into a car the left after he and his friends inflamed the situation.”

The second witness, Hanan Khawasik, said: “I swear I saw Alaa stealing a weapon from an armored personal carrier (APC) that was on the 6th of October bridge”. She added she wrote an article about those events titled “For God and Country”. She expressed her staunch support of SCAF “because they protect the country” and that she “fears none and he testimony is for God and country.” Khawasik finally mentioned that she saw Alaa carrying a machine gun and there were others with him at Abdel Moniem Reyad Square.

Alaa responded “those testimonies are devoid of any truth, and they are very contradictory. The first witness saw me with Wael Abbas and this can not be true. Wael was at the time in Tunisia and he only arrived to Cairo much later that day.
The second witness’ account of what shape and form of the APC was absurd as what she described is a truck and not an APC.”

Alaa added that “a further evidence of their perjury is that one witness claimed that I threw the weapon in the Nile, while the other saw me carrying it was at  Abdel Moniem Reyad Square.”

Alaa’s father, Ahmed Sief El-Islam, requested that the “general prosecutor listen to the the defense’s witnesses. They are Wael Abaas, who was arriving that day from Tunisia on flight number 844K (details easily verifiable with the airline company),  Alaa’s sister Sana Seif, his mother Laila Soueif and his wife Manal Bahi El-Deen Hassan.

Seif El-Islam request that  an investigative judge  preside over the case as there is mounting evidence from  national council for human rights that a number  of military officials are implicated in that case.

Seif El-Islam, added, “the prosecutor general office could bend under the pressure from the military in a manner that would prejudice them against the accused, hence I demand that an investigative judge take over”. He also asked that mobile operators should come forth with the logs of Alaa Abdel Fattah’s phone and the prosecutor’s two witnesses during the period from 5 to 9 pm.  He also demanded the the surveillance tapes in-front of Maspero and the Egyptian Museum be brought forth as they will show that Alaa was not present while the violence was taking place. He added that Alaa’s Facebook and twitter status update are further evidence of his son’s innocence.


مصر ما بعد المجلس العسكرى

أكتب هذه االمدونة  وآالاف من المتظاهرين فى ميدان التحرير يعانون من وابل من الغازات المسيلة للدموع و ما هو أخطر. أنهم يجاهدون بإرادة حديدية من أجل ان يحافظوا على الميدان. أجد نفسى أحاول ان احكم القبضة على حبال أفكارى وبين الحين و الأخر أحاول ان اطمئن على أصدقائى و رفقائى فى الميدان. وبينما يسقط أنبل و أشجع شباب مصر ما بين قتيل و جريح يتجلى بوضوح شديد حتمية تنحى المجلس العسكرى. هذا الأمر ليس محل جدل عقيم او حتى إستفتاء خادع. هذه الحتمية يفرضها العقل و المنطق و الحد الأدنى من الإحساس و الإنسانية. كيف يمكن ان نثق فى قيادة سياسية تستبيح القتل و التنكيل بمن يعارضونها كيف يمكن أن نثق أنها قادرة على إدارة عملية التحول الديمقراطى؟ أى جرأة و إنعدام المشاعر هذه التى تمكن المشير طنطاوى من ان يعلن عن وعود بتسليم السلطة بينما قواته شارعة فى مهاجمة و قتل المتظاهرين السلميين؟ خطايا المجلس العسكرى المتنامية يمكن تعويلها على سوء إدارة سياسية فادح أو كما يرى البعض هى تغليب المصلحة الشحصية  بما يعرض الوطن لمخاطر جسيمة.  

فى أى من الأحول تنحى المجلس اصبح  أمرا لا مفر منه. الثوار لن يرضوا بما هو أقل من ذلك. السؤل المهم هو كيف يمكن أن يحدث ذلك دون إحداث ما هو أسوأ منه؟  في هذا السياق يبرز عدد من القضايا الشائكة، وأتناولها كالتالي و يجب مواجهاتها والتغلب على ما يذخر فيها من تحديات من أجل ان يتم نقل السلطة بطريقة سريعة و منظمة

  1.  تشبث المجلس بالسلطة
  2. الألية التى سوف تعطى السلطة الجديدة شرعيتها
  3. آلية تسمح للشعب مراقبة عملية التحول الديمقرطى والتعبير عن رؤيته لتكون موازية ومتكاملة مع المجالس النيابية، وسأوضح لماذا لا يكفي في هذه المرحلة أن تكون المجالس النيابية هي الآلية المنفردة بالمراقبة الشعبية.

قبل تصريح طنطاوى و الهجوم الشرس الذى تلاه كان العقل الجمعى فى التحرير مستغرقا فى تأمل دقيق لهذه القضايا من خلال الاف المناقشات التى كانت تجرى فى الميدان. كثير من هذه المناقشات كانت تجرى فى اجواء من الجدية شديدة. كانت هذه اللحظات الغالية التى يتاح فيها لجموع الشعب المصرى -من كل طبقاته و إنتمائاته الإيديولوجية- بالتحدث والنقاش يتم دفع ثمنها من دماء انبل و أطهر شباب مصر. أحاول فى السطور القادمة ان اقدم قراءتى للتحرك الأمثل من وحى هذه النقاشات.

تشبث المجلس بالسلطة
نعلم بدون ادنى شك ان المجلس العسكرى لن يتنازل عن السلطة بسهولة. من المرجح ان كل عضو فى هذا المجلس الشديد الإرتباط بمبارك وعائلته كان له دور فى منظومة الفساد. سياستهم التى تبدوا متخبطة ما هى إلا محاولة لكسب وضع خاص فى المنظومة السياسية القادمة تجنبهم اى نوع من المساءلة. كانت محاولتهم دءوبة من أجل تسويق منظومة “ديمقراطية” مغشوشة، وهو ما تؤكده الأحداث المتوالية منذ تولي المجلس العسكري مهماته الرئاسية والتي كان الشعب يئن ولكنه يصبر انتظارا لبصيص من النور دون أن يقع في مواجهة مباشرة مع المجلس على قدر المستطاع. إلى أن جاءت مذابح التحرير الحالية والتي يصعب معها التسامح أو طأطأة الرأس أو تسمية الأشياء بغير مسمياتها. هناك إجماع بين الثوار ان القصاص ضرورى، ولكن كيف؟ إن التصورات الموجودة والناتجة عن الغضب المشروع قد تؤدي إلى  تكلفة باهظة هذه بعض النتائج المحتملة التي يرفضها العقل والمصلحة العامة للوطن.

  • معارك طاحنة مسلحة مع بعض قطاعات الجيش المصرى وقوات الأمن و الدمار الناتج عنها
  • نقلاب عسكرى يعيد إنتاج ديكتاتورية جديدة
  • إنقسامات داخل الجيش تهدد أمن مصر الوطنى
  • حرب أهلية من بعض القوى التى راهنت على بقاء المجلس و عملت معه مساومات

ولأن هذه النتائح لن تصل بنا إلى ما نصبو إليه ونحلم به ، لهذه الأسباب فإن المصلحة العليا تقتضى ان نعطى العفو التام لأعضاء المجلس من المساءلة. اعلم ان هذا الكلام من الصعب جداً تقبله و لكنه تطبيق لحكمة سان تزو التى تقول:

إبنى للأعداء جسورا من ذهب لينسحبوا من المعركة.

ولذا يصبح المطلب الرئيسي الآن المطالبة من المجلس بتسليم سلطاته الرئاسية بسلام ضمان سلامة أعضائه وعدم مساءلتهم. ويصبح السؤال هو من الذي سيتولى شئون إدارة البلاد سياسيا؟

السلطة الجديدة و شرعيتها
كثر الجدل عن المجلس الرئاسى المدنى و من سيكون ضمن أعضائه. أليه إختيار الأعضاء غير واضحة و إن كان البعض يدعوا أن يكون هذا المجلس مكونا من كل المرشحين المحتملين للرئاسة، وهناك أراء أخرى لن أتعرض لها بالتفصيل فهي موجودة على الساحة، ولكن الإجماع يتمحور في إيجاد أي بديل يحل محل المجلس العسكري
و لكن بدون ألية واضحة لأختيار أعضاء هذا المجلس قد تدخل البلاد فى دوامة التطاحن السياسى. و كثيرون من السخفاء سوف يعلنون حربا شرسة على “ديكتاتورية الميدان” الذي قاد البلاد إلى تخلي المجلس العسكري عن الرئاسة ، وندخل في غياهب الظلام والشلل من جديد.

وقد يرى البعض أن الحل يكمن في تكوين  المجلس الرئاسى عن طريق نظام الإنتخاب الترتيبى(ranked voting method). ميزة المجلس الرئاسى المنتخب بهذه الطريقة أنه سيكون ممثلا لكل التيارات السياسية المصرية و الأمل ان يخلق هذا نوعا من التوافق يمهد الطريق لدستور توافقى. و لكن هناك تخوف من أن يجد هذا المجلس صعوبة شديدة فى التحرك و إتخاذ القرارت و أن يكون بذلك غير قادر على قيادة عملية التحول الديمقراطى بشكل فعال.

ممكن كبديل للمجلس الرئاسة المدنى ان ننتخب رئيسا للبلاد تكون فترة رئاسته سنتين  و لا تجدد. انا أفضل هذا الطرح حيث ان سرعة إتخاذ القرار فى هذه المرحلة ضرورى.

سيكون هذا الرئيس منوط فى الأساس بإنجاز هذه المهام:
إرساء قواعد التحول الديمقراطى فى البلاد و ما يصحبها من خطوات ضرورية من أجل  التحول من دولة أفراد لدولة مؤسسات.
إعادة بناء وزارة الدخلية بما يحقق الأمن و الأمان مع ضمان كل الحريات المدنية
تدعيم الثقة فى إقتصاد البلاد و مسار التحول الديمقراطي.

بدون شفافية و بدون رقابة من المرجح ان يبعد الرئيس  عن تطلعات الشعب و ما يصاحب ذلك من موجات غضب عارمة. فى الظروف العادية يكون مجلس الشعب هو القائم بهذا الدور و لكن فى ظل الظروف الحالية و إلى ان تستقر الخريطة السياسية لمصر ندى شك من قدرة المجلس النيابي القادم على القيام بهذا الدور. السبب الرئيسى فى ذلك انه لم يتاح للشعب بعد الفرصة لتكوين أحزاب فاعلة وناضجة سياسيا لتكوين برامج واضحة وممكن تحقيقها. ثانيا النظام الإنتخابى الحالى الشديد التعقيد لا يتيح للشعب أن يعبر عن إرادته، لأن اختياراته ستكون عشوائية أكثر منها نتاج لتفكير في البرامج المقدمة لها من الأحزاب الموجودة.  وللتغلب على هذه المعضلات أجد أن الحل يكمن فى الديمقراطية المباشرة و ذلك من اجل ان تعبر جموع المواطنين عن رأيهم فى كافة السياسات. تنظيم القدرة على الآطلاع من قبل متخذي القرارة على أراء الجماهير دون مظاهرات أو احتجاجات يتطلب فكرا إبداعيا، وأحد الافتراحات التي أقدمها تتعلق ببناء نظام معلوماتي  يتيح الأتى

  1. التعبير عن المشاكل الملحة من جموع المواطنين و التصويت على بدائل الحلول
  2. إطلاع  المواطنين ف  على السياسات التى يتم وضعها من خلال نشرها على مواقع إلكترونية معروفة. 
  3. تلخيص و تصينف كافة شكاوى المواطنين من أجل تحديد الأولويات و تنظيم البت فيها.

 هذا النظام المقترح ممكن بلورته بشكل دقيق فى المستقبل و لكن هذه هى  خطوطه العريضة.

يجب ان نطالب بالأتى:
تنحى المجلس العسكرى مع العفو عن كل أعضائه
انتخاب رئيس جمهورية إنتقالى نظام معلومات يسمح بالديمقراطية المباشرة مع وجود مجلس تشريعى موازى.

ارجو من قارئى هذه المدونة  تناول هذا المقترحات بمداخلات تزيد من بلورة الفكرة أو تقدم حلولا أخرى كما أرجو منهم  نشرها على قدر الإستطاعة إذا وجدوا هذه الإقتراحات مقبولة.

لا يكمننا ان نفقد زمام المبادرة هذه المرة!


Post SCAF Egypt

As I write this post thousands of protesters in Tahrir are under a barrage of tear gas fighting with steely determination to maintain control over the square. I struggle to maintain my focus as I constantly check on safety of my  friends. While many continue to lose life and limb it is becoming patently clear that the supreme council of the armed forces (SCAF) MUST step down from political office. This is not a matter for academic debate or national referendum. It is a self evident fact that demands but a grain of sense and a smidgen of basic human decency. How can political leadership that brutally murders those who disagree with it policies be trusted with democratic transformation? How can SCAF’s head, Tantawy, be any position to make promises to the Egyptian people while his forces are engaged in pitched battles with those who are doing their best to keep there protest as peaceful as possible? SCAF’s sins are too numerous to recount and if one was ridiculously generous it would put down due to gross incompetence, though many now see their actions are treasonous.

SCAF’s quick departure is now a forgone conclusion. The protesters will settle for nothing less. The question is how? What we need is a rapid and orderly transfer of power. In order to do that the following issues must be addressed:

  1. SCAF’s hold on power.
  2. The process by which SCAF’s replacement will have legitimacy.
  3. The system in place that would insure that the process of democratic transition will go smoothly and be subject to public scrutiny.
Before Tantawy’s speech and the massive tear gas attack that followed, the collective mind of Tahrir was engaged in deep consideration of those issues through thousands of discussion around the square. Many of those discussion were held with the utmost seriousness and sense of urgency.  Those precious moments today in Tahrir were only sustained by the hemorrhaging of the country’s bravest and noblest on entrances of Tahrir. I will attempt here to present my perspective on the ideas that have been put forth. We need to crystallize a consensus on those issues soon. We can not afford to lose initiative at this crucial point in time.

SCAF’s hold on power
Without a doubt SCAF will not step down easy. Each member of SCAF probably has loads of skeletons in their closet. They are also burdened by glaring present sins. Their apparent fumbling with the process of democratic transition seem to have been put themselves in a privileged political position that would make them immune to any form of scrutiny. They were trying to do this will peddling a very adulterated faux democracy. 
The principled revolutionary would argue that we can not let them get away with their crimes. However, the cost of doing that might be too expensive. We risk the following:
  • Pitched battles with army with the wide scale destruction that would ensue
  • A coup d’etat that would results in either a new dictator power or
    at the very least a very serious threat to Egypt’s national security 
  • Civil war with those whose who have put all of the marbles in SCAF lap (hint: many Islamists)

It hence seems that the rational (though definitely not moral) thing to do is to declare full amnesty to SCAF members, we should give them a clean a smooth exist. As Sun Tzu would put it 

Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across

The structure and legitimacy of the new transitional authority
Many are talking about presidential council and putting forth names. There seems to be a consensus on this as way the forward. However the mechanism for selecting members for this council is not clear. Some  say, lets through in all the current presidential hopefuls. Anything but SCAF.
However, without a clear mechanism for selecting that council, the country will be incapacitated by serious bickering. Many indolent pundits will call it the “dictatorship of Tahrir”. Democracy often needs a bit of bootstrapping and there is many instances were it starts of by undemocratic means. However, we will need to concede even to those who like to put revolutionaries who are shedding blood for new Egypt and politicly complacent couch potatoes on equal footing. We can not afford to be patronising, even to arm chair analysts who are often drawing their information from the SCAF controlled Goebbelsian propaganda machine.

Hence what is need is an elected council. This could be done by a ranked voting
The downside of the presidential council is that the decision making process is likely to be lengthy. The upside is that as an outcome of the election the council will have representatives from all the major Egyptian political streams and that (with a bit of luck) they could lay the foundations of consensus that will be essential for our new constitution.

The mandate of this council would be to primarily:
1. Lay down the foundations for democratic transition
2. Rebuild/Reform the ministry of interior
3. Establish confidence necessary political and economic stability

An alternative to this scenario is to just elect a new transitory president with a two year term. Unity of command will allow for rapid decision making and will spare us fractionation which we do not need at this point. The president with the exact same mandate as the council a s/he will be able be the face of Egypt in the next couple of years and conduct delicate negotiations with foreign powers in a
manner that presidential council might not achieve. I am more in favour of that
option, though the idea has yet to gain sufficient currency.

The system
Without enough transparency and without a modicum of checks and balances, the new president/council are likely to go wayward and more instability will ensue. Normally, a parliament job is to do exactly that. However, I am doubtful that our first parliament will be up to the task (the reasons are worthy of lengthy post). It is hence my believe that a minimal degree of direct democracy will be needed. This may be achieve by a requisite IT infrastructure that will include
means for:

  1. Expressing group concerns and voting on them.
  2. Voting on specific policies that put forth by the president/council
  3. Summarising and clustering the various opinions to detect festering problem areas.

The president/council must answer to top concerns presented by system on weakly basis. They might be a bit of hand-waving, but I believe we should get the best management, political science and IT experts in the country to build such a system.

To sum up
We should call for:

  1. A quick departure with amnesty for SCAF
  2. An elected president or presidential council (we have to decide on which one we would perfer)
  3. A system that would allow for direct democracy in parallel with parliament (to be worked out will the presidential election are taking place)
I urge my readers to share this if they believe it to be worthy, or expresses the objections or comments below.

Hope, Pain, and Anger at Tahrir

As I walked into Tahrir early this morning my head was held low with shame, I could not been there earlier. Many of the fellow revolutionaries have fallen and I was not there beside them.

Prominent Egyptian Blogger Malek smiling nonchalantly after having been shot in his right eye on Nov 19.

I met a man with an ashen face, he has seen too many youth fall and has endured incredible quantities of CR gas. He was in the square for a small respite, and was heading back to the front lines in Mohamed Mahmoud St. shortly. Ahmed has been enduring fierce battles for 36 hours and has a steely determination that he will not leave Tahrir before the supreme council of the armed forces (SCAF) steps down.  He was tired, happy and hopeful. I asked him: what comes after SCAF? He said it could be a presidential council. When I pressed him for the mechanism, Ahmed was not sure. However, it was pretty clear for him that he could tolerate any more lies.

SCAF has deceived, lied, and connived to liquidate the forces of the Egyptian revolution. It has accused members of Egypt’s April 6th movement of being foreign agents. It has allowed members of Mubarak’s NDP to regroup to play a prominent role in the elections. It has fomented sectarian strife and done little to protect Egypt’s Copts. It has done a lousy job of managing the economy and bringing the country closer to stability. Finally, in what should have Egypt’s first experience of honest elections, it has presented Egyptians most algorithmically complex elections system ever. But the final straw was when the riot police violently broke up a sit-in that was stated by the revolution’s injured. SCAF has reneged on its promise that to rehabilitate them and take care of their medical expenses.

Ahmed is not fighting for a clear idea of what he wants in terms of a political way forward, but it is clear to him what he is against. He can not tolerate more lies. He is fighting against a world where those who claim their freedom are murdered  and dumped with trash, and where the injured are treated as human refuse. He  will do his best to change that world for the better, or die trying.

“Down with SCAF!” is now thundering through Tahrir as I write this blog. A few thousand discussions are taking place as to alternative. Something will emerge soon. The revolution continues…