Dozens of Gaza solidarity activists, Egyptians and foreigners, gathered on the stairs of the Lawyers’ General Syndicate in Downtown Cairo today to commemorate the first anniversary of Operation Cast Lead – which left more than 1,400 Gazans dead and over 5,300 injured; along with 13 Israeli deaths and more than 510 wounded. Unlike most protest stands in Cairo, this one was not staged on the stairs of the Journalists’ Syndicate. Even more unusual was the presence of police officers and central security forces within the Lawyers’ Syndicate.
Egyptian activist Salma Abu Taleb told Al-Masry Al-Youm “security forces began pulling and shoving us out of the Lawyers’ Syndicate shortly after 6pm. This being the case we decided to regroup on the stairs of the Journalists’ Syndicate. When we got there we found that the doors were closed and security forces were out in numbers. This time they pushed and shoved us off of these stairs far more violently.”
She added “the police weren’t using their batons but they were threatening to do so. The security forces did not sexually harass any female demonstrators, this time around, as far as I know. Although I did see one female activist having her camera confiscated.” Abu Taleb was surprised that foreigner activists were being roughed-up in the same manner.
A Welsh activist, Katie Hearst, who was also present at the Lawyers’ Syndicate said “inside the syndicate there were tens of protesters chanting in Arabic. The police wasn’t letting anybody in or out. Shortly afterwards they starting pushing people outside. I wasn’t clubbed or punched; but I saw others – including foreigners – being punched and kicked.” Hearst, wearing an open sandal displayed her broken toe-nail.