(I actually wanted to entitle this roll “The day i missed the Camels”. Down here following are notes, sketches and statuses from those broken phonecalls I’d make from Tahrir square under siege, in Cairo, to friends overseas, during the famous Camel’s day, while coping with an internet blackout and a revolution you all know of. I still have no heart to read them back, apologies for mispells. My endless love to Francesca, Fady, Ali, and all the others who wrote and dispatched these messages)
1rst of february
In a televised speech Mubarak announced that he will step down – but only at the end of his mandate in September. It was at least two million people chanting today in Tahrir, everybody expected him to come up tonight and say he’d leave immediately.
An ocean of people rushes down from the houses marching down all the streets towards Tahrir. «No, we said go now», The ocean reaches Tahrir. «Then we will stay here for another 9 months».
As an ocean of people was singing in Tahrir square, the gangs of Mubarak arrived with weapons from the side streets attacking the barricades. hundred of protestors in front them singing “we are one people, we are the same people”… Tanks come in to protect the protesters. People around me are crying for the anger. I don’t know what’s going to happen now, they say it’s a planned attack
2nd of february
Pro Mubarak protestors surrounding in hundreds Tahrir square, trying to engage in fight. Agents going around neighborhoods trying to enroll new demonstrators for Mubarak, if you join u get 5$. Friends calling to say “give up”. Chief of army telling protestors to go home. Today is the test day.
Pro Mubarak entering the square, they’re next to me at checkpoints. Women screaming from windows: «Shame on you! You sold Egypt for 5$». 5$, that’s enough to feed a whole family for a day. Five dollars today, tomorrow Mubarak will need another ten.
O. tells me to be careful from the clean people, says clean people are the ones who did not sleep with us and who are coming to support Mubarak. They are entering to attack us. That’s for sure.
In Tahrir, agents are coming at me screaming: ” Mubarak stepped down, why don’t you go home?” the square is half empty. Some people are crying. Mubarak reactivated trainlines so that his people could reach Cairo – including so many friends of friends.
They are saying that we will die here in Tahrir Square. Men at the enter of the streets close to the square are shooting to us continuously.”I can not see anything” is saying a friend and I become aware he’s wounded on his head.” we have been sold – he says – sold by Mubarak, sold by countries whatching being killed, sold by the media marketing us from their balconies up high on Tahrir squares” . I asked to an official to allow children and women to leave the square, he gave no answer.
Strange thing in your mind when you’re sitting in Tahrir Square, trappled as a mouse.. Something like ” who will pick up my laundry tomorrow ? ” We’re trapped and they’re coming from Kasr el Nil.
All of my friends are injured now. We lay together in Tahrir Square, joking about what we would do if we get out of here alive – drinking, for sure, we say. Still shootings at the corners of the square, still trapped. They promess us that hundreds of thousands of protesters are coming to all corners from the streets to try to get us out of here. I wonder how they will trenspass the police squads. I have no idea. If the demonstrators break through the militiants, we’ll be safe. But we are afraid that this sort of news are circulating just to raise our spirit. ( a friend posting.. )
Inside the emergency place they are curing the injured. There’s stench of urin everywhere. People are laying in any corner. Policemen are been curing here as well. No one had any time to count the dead so far, and we don’t know if outside the Mubarak men managed to break into the square. Anyway from here I cannot hear any shootings
We are still under fire from all the entrances of the square, people are still resisting with everything they have, but there are snipers at the windows.. and everybody is tired. there’s shooting everywhere and this battles seems endless, blullets and fire against stones. never seen such brave people.
3rd of february
last night was endless. There is not a single stone-thrower on the barracks who is not injured, and at three they started shooting full rounds of live ammunition aiming at chests and heads. Everybody is exausted, exausted, exausted – but hey, eight in the morning and Tahrir is still resisting.
“we can’t let injured into ambulances”,a doctor explains,”cause hospitals will send them to the police. Yes, if they break in, all these people will end up in jail. And us doctors too”. outside the operation-emergency-waiting hall set up by volunteers, a kid tells us once again that another hour, and more protesters will be coming to help us. It’s the thousandth time we’ve heard this story. When are they coming, when
there are lots of other things to say but i’m running out of words and we have an injured friend to take care of (hospital too dangerous, and emergency camp of Tahrir too busy with shot protesters). Personally, I’m praying that everybody will come down to Tahrir as soon as possible. (dah-ha-ha, a praying atheist)
one day i will re-read these statuses and i will laugh about how incoherent and chaotic they are. sorry. blame it on Mubarak keeping Tahrir awake all night
One last thing, these people are umbelievable. We were expecting Mubarak’s militias to massacre us any minute yesterday;protesters fought for Tahrir all night. We were supposed to get the final attack at dawn;at 5.50 this morning the Museum road hasbeen conquered and snipers arrested one by one. Fighters took me to the new barrack: they are at the Octiober bridge now! all this with some stones, and hyper-lion’s hearts.
“Give them another day, and they will conquer the highway to Alexandria” we laugh around N.’s bed (our injured friend). Tears start running down her cheeks. “You know”, she says, “all our school years we heard about massacres, and genocides, and these stories. But I would have never expected to witness one. Yesterday it was a genocide against us. I tell, you, a genocide”.
Yesterday’s battle seems three days ago.
They say armoured vehicles are entering Tahrir but we can’t hear anything of the sort. Our friends there say everything peaceful. As for us, not peaceful. Sitting behind the square without any possibility to get down (two activists, one injured, one palestinian refugee, one foreign journalist, aha) is a damn torture. N.’s leg is getting more and more swollen. i’m concerned, but I don’t want to scare her.
almost one million down in Tahrir square right now. Take this, Hosni Mubarak
“One million, one million, one million, one million, the revolution goes on” we cry behind closed windows where we still hide like rats. it feels like hundreds of thousads of people came to deliver us too. Tomorrow we will all be free.
We cry and laugh in the dark laying next to each other on the pavement. tomorrow is another million march day. we feel such a frustration at being so close and so closed. then, relief. 24 hours under siege and attack waiting for supporters who seemed to never come…and in the moment of biggest fear, when everybody is being witchhunted and attacked in the streets, here they come in thousands and thousands. Once again, hail to egyptian courage.
the check points behind Tahrir, which is all i can see now, look happy and quiet – neighbours lit fires while guarding buildings, for the first time in years they socialize smoking to gether all night and playing soccer. Vice-President Omar Suleyman attacked this new “fashon” of egyptians socializing, saying it’s very unhealthy for them and it has to stop. Take this, Omar Suleyman. We hear the voices from the square – thousands of voices. And not a single bullet. We were especting a massacre for tonight….instead they came in thousand to celebrate in Tahrir. Take this, Hosni Mubarak.
in the darkness i hear my two companions talk quietly and hug each other talking about revolution and other things i can’t understand. it was a difficult day, the first without street life and alarms and dangers and without “the others”, the thousands of others. every day is impossible to guess what next, in this endless egyptian revolution. yesterday we were going to be slaughtered, today Tahrir was abandoned by everybody, tonight they all came down again from everywhere. And tomorrow they will all be free.
4rth of february
We get the news that they are searching for foreigners house by house as soon as we turn on the computer. Hotels get stormed by militias, some journalists got stabbed, others “kidnapped”. As for the egyptians, most of the people we know seem to be taken. Mubarak seems back on track. We get ready to spend the day at home, talk quietly when speaking in english, and hide somhow in case someone comes searching.
O. tells me “you remember the phone on the barracks, the mobile i found on the barracks, the mobile i found this morning, you remember his mother was calling and i did not want to answer because she would fear for her child in vain”. “I remember, yes”. “Well he was the first death yesterday”.
we still don’t know what to do with N.’s injury and we can’t trust hospitals here. we left tahrir this morning around 7 – 8 to lay her in the house, any doctor’s expertise is welcome cause we can’t go out now. soldiers and milias and police, they are all after foreigners and there are check points everywhere (we’re behind Tahrir). N. insists on going back to Tahriri, even crawling.
200 egyptian puonds (20 dollars more or less) is the price to protest for Mubarack, i got the confirm from several “pro-mubaraks” arrested yesterday. But Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq appeared on tv right now, apologizing for what happened and swearing on god, his family and his children that marches for mubarak are genuine and no one is being paid. This is the government that western countries insist on recognizing.
here we sit, getting news every half hour about people we know being arrested in areas under army control. we hide here, two activists, one injured, and then there is the foreigner, me. It’s sheer paranoia, and we are running out of bread and beer. i hear shots and tank noises from Tahrir. We’d feel much safer if we were there. A new appeal to come protest was dispatched, but I doubth anyone will ever reach Tahrir.
on the bright side, sorry for the personal parenthesis, i was finally able to eat, sleep, go to the toilet and above all take my nuclear shoes off after two days on the run .
my joints, especially the legs, are so hurting after the siege, the running and the cold, that i can hardly walk i wonder how are women and children coping?!? …- it’s almost ONE week they are there. such brave people.
O. finally found a doctor who came to see N.’s injure, he promessed he’ll come back with some portable x-ray and cast to bandage the leg. N., instead, still wants to crawl back to Tahrir and asks every two minutes “shall we go now?”
I just wish I could get out of here and upload all my footage from tonight’s attack, yalla soldiers get out of the damn street
More lies piling on the egyptian revolution. Tahrir empier and emptier. A new appeal for a million march tomorrow has been spread, but spirits are low and exaustion – and a sense of betraied dignity – burdens all faces. “Where are all our friends, weren’t we all revolutioneers last week”, a friend screams. But we are all so stuck
Suleyman plays it dirtier than Mubarak. Now he’s proposing himself as the man of reform on the path to freedom. freedom my ass. But it’s so hard for a square to keep together once they start breaking it with compromises. And as people is exausted, old fears come back. People are asking me not to take picture of their faces. They are not so sure anymore they’ll get rid of Mubarak’s terror.