Cairo witnessed another massacre on Wednesday August 14th. The number of the deaths is not certain yet. The biased Egyptian media were reporting only seven deaths until noon time, which has to be seen as a joke. Eye witnesses and doctors at the protest site hospital estimated 2,200 deaths and an uncountable number of injuries, until the police forces evacuated the field hospital by force, before burning it. A female doctor was begging the police to leave her to take care of the injuries before being thrown out of the hospital; luckily she survived after escaping the site.
The government point of view is that the protest was a national security threat, where the protestors keep different types of weapons including chemical and heavy weapons. They also stated that the protestors arrest people from around the protest site, kill them and bury them in the square. That’s how they justified the extreme use of violence against the protestors.
I have been to all the protest sites in Cairo and Alexandria in the last 45 days, including pro and anti coup protests. I was focusing on the anti coup protest sites, especially Rabaa site where the massacre happened. I was there more than 15 times, taking thousand of photos, tens of videos, interviewing many people, and the following are my personal observations, drawn from what I experienced myself.
1- I haven’t seen any type of weapons except wooden sticks, rubble, and shields to protect the protest site.
2- I have seen people from different backgrounds united to refuse the military coup.
3- I was welcomed to take any photos and any number of videos.
4- I was asking the protestors some annoying questions and they never got angry with me.
5- Only one person in 15 days of visiting asked me “What you are doing with your camera and why do you take lots of photos?”
6- Everybody going into the protest site has to go through three check points, first for ID, second for searching body search, and third for searching your bags, and I never felt unwelcome.
7- I have seen many families there.
8- During breaking the fast in Ramadan, they shared the limited amount of food they have.
9- When it gets hot, volunteers tend to spray water using small size sprinklers, and distribute cold water for free.
10- I’ve seen a few angry people, but I haven’t heard about any plans of using violence or any talk about weapons.
11- I have seen a great number of people fill the square and all the streets leading to it on some days.
12- There was a big stage to broadcast songs, information, news, and invite people to make speeches and statements.
Look at the photos in the following link for photos from the square. http://realegypt.zenfolio.com/p404976488
These 12 points are a general description of the protest site based on what I’ve seen myself.
This does not mean I know it all. There’s a possibility that a few angry people among the protestors managed to smuggle in a gun or a pistol, believing in his right to defend himself using these weapons in case an attack happens. But I haven’t seen any of that or any clear videos or photos showing any use of such weapons from the protestors’ side. On the other hand, there are thousands of photographic and video examples of the extreme use of violence from the police and army side, including
1- Use of pistols and machine guns.
2- Snipers from high buildings and military aircrafts.
3- Pellets guns.
4- Tear gas of the most dangerous type.
5- Militia who are criminals used by the Mubarak regime to support the police and army operations.
The closest I could reach to the massacre site yesterday was 500 meter, where a small mosque turned into another field hospital to receive the dead and wounded from the fight around the mosque. It was a small gathering compare to the main one in Rabaa. The people around the mosque intended to protect the hospital from the police attack, and because of that more that there were 15 deaths and hundreds of injuries in less than half an hour, I have seen and carried them myself. I stopped counting after that, and my back is still hurting since then.
I was so sad because I forgot to take my camera memory card, I couldn’t take photos of what is happening; but on the other hand, this gave me a chance to help the people in the hospital. It also saved my life, because later I found out that the police and army snipers around the protest sites were focusing on killing anybody who holds a camera, so there will be no record or evidence of what happened. A big man like me carrying a big camera would be an easy target. It wasn't my time.
But luckily, I found a great collection of photos made by a talented photographer who was in the middle of the protest site, which you can see in the link below.
Unfortunately this photographer will not be able to take photos any longer, since he was killed by a sniper when he was taking these photos.