[R.S.F news] IRIS no 317

Irish Republican Information Service (no. 317)
Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail: saoirse@iol.ie
Date: 17 Lúnasa /August 2013

Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom

In this issue:

1. Goss and Gaughran remembered in Dundalk

2. Belfast loyalists riot as they attempt to prevent Republican march

3. Republican band parade rerouted as tensions rise

4. Blue paint thrown over a pillar at St Malachy’s church

5. Auxiliaries won’t be commemorated at Kilmichael Ambush site

6. Secret British papers reveal secret 1970s interrogation centre in Derry

7. Liam Campbell extradition refused

8. Industrial action to resume at Kells Credit Union

9. Call for renegotiation of toll road contracts

10. Call for full public enquiry to investigate the relationship Gardaí and Shell

11. ‘The police keep firing; the bodies pile up. In Cairo, bloodbaths are now a daily occurrence’

1. Goss and Gaughran remembered in DundalkRichardGossCommemoration2013rsf

ON August 8 members and supporters of Republican Sinn Féin from Dundalk, Newry, Armagh, Kildare, Dublin and Wexford and the piper from the Glens of Antrim marched from the Lisdoo Bar in Dundalk, Co Louth and marched to St Patrick’s Cemetery to commemorate Richard Goss, executed by the de Valera-led Free State government in 1941 and Liam Gaughran, who died as a result ill-health suffered by his incarceration in Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight in 1946.

Proceedings were chaired by Frank Hanratty, Dundalk, who welcomed all there and gave a particular welcome to Richard Goss’s sister Rosmary and her husband Tom Doran who travelled from Dublin, as they do each year, with members of their family to be part of the commemoration.

Wreaths were laid by Stan Flynn on behalf of the Republican Movement, Dundalk and by Sarah Murphy on behalf of South Armagh Republicans. Dara Sloane said a decade of the Rosary as Gaeilge and the oration was delivered by Ard Chomhairle member Fergal Moore, Monaghan. He said:

“I am greatly honoured to be speaking here at this commemoration for two of Dundalk’s most stalwart sons, Richard Goss and Liam Gaughran. The two were comrades in arms and each played their part in the long struggle against the forces of occupation at a time when it was neither popular or profitable to do so. Richard was to face the firing-squad in a Free State jail and Willie, his health broken after long years in an English prison, was to die here in Dundalk. The two now lie together in this place, comrades, until the end of time.

RichardGossCommemoration2013rsf“The 1930s and 40s were among the toughest times faced by Irish Republicans. Former Republicans by now in the ranks of Fianna Fáil did their utmost to suppress any kind of Republican sentiment gaining a foothold in Ireland. Ireland had been divided by Britain in the 20s but the Free Staters were determined to keep it that way lest they too be thrown out of power by the resurgence of a genuinely revolutionary Republican Movement. De Valera and Fianna Fáil came to power promising to realise the Republic but instead they brought suppression, internment, military courts, the firing squad and the English hangman.

“Brian O’Higgins, former president of Sinn Féin and one of the faithful members of the 2nd Dáil Éireann who signed over the legitimate authority of the government of Dáil Éireann to the army council of the IRA in 1938 wrote: ‘During that time of coercion, suppression, secret military tribunals and all the other symbols of tyranny, the men whose only enemy was the English invader of their country and whose only object was the freedom and unity of all Ireland were hunted night and day by the armed minions of renegade Irishmen who had come to power under false pretences.’

“It was against this background that Liam Gaughran and Richard Goss made the heroic decision to join the IRA. Richard was imprisoned for three months in 1934 by one of de Valera’s Military Tribunals for failing to account for his movements. By 1939 he was accounted an expert in explosives and was sent by Seán Russell to England for the Sabotage Campaign which began with a formal declaration of war by the IRA upon Britain. This declaration stated ‘We call upon England to withdraw her armed forces, her civilian officials and institutions, and representatives of all kinds from every part of Ireland as an essential preliminary to arrangements for peace and friendship between the two countries.’ This remains the fundamental Republican position towards the continued occupation of our country. We cannot have peace in Ireland or normal relations with our neighbour while England holds claim to the Six Counties.

“Richard along with Liam and many other Irish men and women took the fight for freedom into the very heart of Britain. Richard, despite being held for seven days for refusing to account for £20 he had, operated in England until the late summer of 1939 when he returned to Ireland. There were 127 attacks by the IRA between January and June of that year. Liam Gaughran and another Dundalk man, Gerry Halpenny, were arrested in England for attempting to blow up Hammersmith Bridge in London. Liam was sentenced to 12 years and was sent to Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight.

“Richard was interned that September in Arbour Hill but was released along with 53 other internees in December following a successful habeas corpus application. Again Richard reported back for duty with the IRA. He was appointed OC of the North Leinster-South Ulster Division and began organising for a campaign in the Six Counties. During this time he struck up a great friendship with the Casey family in Longford with whom he would often stay while on the run. Barney and Matt Casey were to be interned along with hundreds of others in the Curragh in 1940.

“Conditions in the prisons were terrible with sentenced prisoners being denied Prisoner Of War status and the internees being held in crude huts that leaked and let the cold and the wind through them. Protests and clashes occurred in the Curragh and Barney Casey was shot in the back and murdered by a Free State MP in December 1940. The minister for justice, Gerry Boland, issued an order to suppress the coroner’s court doing away with the jury. No verdict was ever returned in the case.

“This is the kind of injustice that we have come to expect from the Free Staters. At Barney Casey’s funeral their soldiers and branch men attempted to interfere with the coffin and set up a cordon around the grave. They employed similar tactics at the funeral of our late chief Ruairí Ó Brádaigh two months ago. Richard Goss led the IRA firing party to a field near the cordon where they fired their three volleys in salute to the former OC of the Longford Battalion before making their escape into the winter night.

“In July of 1941 Richard was again at the Casey home with Joe O’Callaghan and Joe Casey senior and junior when two lorry loads of Free State troops arrived on the scene. Joe senior tackled the Staters in the street while the other three made their escape attempt out the back. Joe junior wrestled a rifle from the hands of a Stater and gave covering fire until he emptied the magazine. He was hit in the heel as he retreated unarmed against the Staters’ furious firing. The two other IRA men had revolvers and they fired upon the enemy that sought to envelop them. A Free State officer was wounded in the neck and a private was hit in the thigh. Eventually the men were forced to surrender.

“Richard was singled out for special treatment and was sent to a special military court established under the feared Emergency Powers Act. Anyone found guilty in front of this court, regardless of charge, could face only one penalty. Just two weeks after being captured Richard Goss was sentenced to death. On the morning of August 9th 1941 that sentence was carried out by a Free State firing-squad.

“Richard’s body was brought home to Dundalk from Portlaoise in 1948. By that time his comrade Liam Gaughran had also died. He had contracted TB in prison due to the conditions and ill treatment there and was released in 1947 to return home to die.

“The 1940s is always a hard time to contemplate for Republicans with the oppression, internment, the hunger strikes, the murders and the executions. But the Republicans of those times endured to successfully pass on the task of achieving Irish Freedom to another generation as those of a previous generation passed it on to them. Pearse wrote: ‘We seem to have lost. We have not lost. To refuse to fight would have been to lose; to fight is to win. We have kept faith with the past, and handed on a tradition to the future.’ That must be the legacy of the men and women of the 40s. They fought despite all that was thrown against them. They fought for something that it was right to fight for: The Irish Republic and in doing so they have bound with their blood each succeeding generation to do likewise.

“The task before Republicans today is to honour the blood spilled by Irish patriots. We must not heed those who through collaboration have long abandoned the Irish Republic of Goss and Gaughran. We must not look for leadership to those who through cowardice, incompetence or wilful treachery would have us do nothing while Ireland remains occupied and our heroes all buried beneath the sod. Now is the time for new heroes to come forth. Now is the time for this generation to rise up and achieve that which previous generations have so long sought and struggled for.

“Richard Goss said, after being sentenced to death, ‘I hope that the future will witness the bringing about and the realisation of the ideals of Irish Freedom.’ We must ensure that we are the generation that brings about Irish Freedom no matter what hardships we must endure. Every generation before us has endured these hardships and so must we.”

The commemoration concluded with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann.

2. Belfast loyalists riot as they attempt to prevent Republican march

loyalist riotingRIOTING broke out in central Belfast on August 9, as loyalists sought to prevent a parade of 5,000 Republicans and their supporters marking the anniversary of internment without trial.

Six loyalist groups were given permission by the Parades Commission to stage counter-demonstrations as the rally made its way from Ardoyne in north Belfast, along Royal Avenue in the city centre before heading into west Belfast.

The loyalists were physically pushed off Royal Avenue by riot police, who were then bombarded with bricks, bottles, stones and fireworks.

2013anti-internement marchbelfastThe police, who deployed dozens of vehicles, with most officers wearing riot gear, responded with water cannon. Police used dogs to control the crowds. At least two police officers in body armour were knocked to the ground during the disorder. The RUC/PSNI confirmed it had fired plastic baton rounds at the rioting loyalists.

Shortly after 7pm the British police used riot squad members and armoured vehicles to block the Republican parade at North Queen Street in the nationalist New Lodge district. It meant there were two separate stand-offs around central Belfast, one involving the loyalists and one involving marchers.

The focus of the trouble involving up to 1,000 loyalists was centred on the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street, which leads to the loyalist Shankill Road.

The violence erupted after the loyalists managed to block Royal Avenue around 6pm.

Fifty-six members of the RUC/PSNI were injured.

The march eventually reached the Busy Bee in Anderstowntown, where a rally was held. Members of the Release Martin Corey Committee carried their banner and flags bearing his name.

On August 8 eight RUC members were injured when trouble flared at a Republican anti-internment bonfire near the city centre. Eight people were arrested and at one point, as violence spread to north Belfast, where the police were attacked by a man wielding a sword.

The city is currently hosting thousands of international visitors attending the World Police and Fire Games.

3. Republican band parade rerouted as tensions rise

IT was reported on August 16 that a parade organised by the Henry Joy McCracken Flute Band in Belfast had been rerouted by the British Parades Commission. Around seven bands are expected to take part in the parade.henryjoyrfb

The parade through north Belfast will take place at the same time as a Royal Black Institution march nearby. On August 15 the Parades Commission imposed restrictions on the Republican march. They will not be allowed to proceed past the junction of Victoria Parade and have been rerouted away from Clifton Street. They will make their way to the graveyard in the area of Henry Place via Carlisle Road and will make their return journey along the same route.

A protest against the march by the Greater Concerned Residents Group Belfast at Clifton Street has been restricted to just 10 people. Another protest group, Concerned Residents Group Shankill, was also restricted to just 10 people at the same location.

The decision to reroute the parade follows rioting in the city centre on August 9 when 56 members of the British police were injured by loyalists during an anti-internment rally.

On August 14 the commission restricted the loyal order parade on the same day.

Four districts of the Grand Black Chapter will pass St Patrick’s Church in Donegall Street. Two bands taking part must play only hymns past the church, and supporters can not accompany the parade along that stretch of the route.

Around 150 nationalists will protest against the march.

4. Blue paint thrown over a pillar at St Malachy’s church

ON August 16 it was revealed that blue paint had been thrown over one of the pillars at St Malachy’s Catholic Church in Alfred Street, Belfast.

The building is currently being steam-cleaned. It is thought to be the first time the church has been targeted in recent years. St Malachy’s is one of the oldest Catholic churches in the city.

5. Auxiliaries won’t be commemorated at Kilmichael Ambush site

ON August 15 a report in the Examiner newspaper said that two West Cork historical kilmichael13organisations redeveloping one of Ireland’s best-known War of Independence sites have strongly denied that Auxiliary troops will be commemorated in the new project.

It had been reported in recent days that plans to revamp the Kilmichael Ambush monument in Co Cork would include an “Auxiliary acknowledgement area” including the name and ranks of the Auxiliaries shot.

Tony McCarthy, a member of the Tony Kennefick Commemoration Committee, had reacted with horror to the plans — describing them as “an affront not just to the people who were at Kilmichael on the day but the people of West Cork”, as the Auxiliaries were responsible for “countless killings and burnings” of homes across Cork.

He called for a public meeting on the planned redevelopment, which was granted planning permission in July.

However, Seán Kelleher, secretary of the Kilmichael Historical Society, which along with the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Commemoration Committee is behind the development of the site, denied that the auxiliaries would be commemorated.

“This is not going to happen,” he said. “Our plan is to develop the site adjacent to the monument as at the moment, there is little information about the ambush there. This is a site of national importance that commemorates the fight that was fought against the Auxiliaries.

“An architect employed by the West Cork Development Project did suggest that a replica of the 1920 Crossley Tender vehicle be included at the site to reference the British troops but both us and the Kilmichael and Crossbarry Committee met and both said that we would not accept it.

“We can understand people’s upset when we saw a photograph of the Crossley Tender submitted with the plans.”

Seán Kelleher said that aside from new steps, the main part of the West Cork Development Project-funded project is a series of interpretative boards which will explain to the many Irish, British, and US tourists who visit the site each year what happened in the Kilmichael Ambush.

“We don’t want to interfere with the nature of the area but we want to explain who was where and what happened. We want to explain over the three acres the various stages of the ambush,” he said.

Sixteen auxiliaries were killed at the site on November 28, 1920, by a flying column of the Third West Cork Brigade IRA.

They were operating under the command of Commandant Tom Barry. The Kilmichael Ambush is seen as a turning point in the War of Independence.

6. Secret British papers reveal secret 1970s interrogation centre in Derry

hoodedmen'13DECLASSIFIED British papers have disclosed the existence of a facility in which Irish Republican prisoners were subject to what the European Commission of Human Rights called ‘torture’, it was reported on August 6.

The treatment of the 12 internees (The Hooded Men) in 1971 led to the Irish government taking a case to the European Commission. It has been claimed that the British government misled two inquiries, as well as the European Court of Human Rights, about the existence of the centre in Ballykelly.

Sarah Duddy of the Pat Finucane Centre, who uncovered the documents, said that the papers showed how closely guarded a secret the interrogation centre was.

“The documents reveal a lot of things,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland. “They reveal the existence of the centre as well as the lengths that the British Government went to keep the existence of the centre concealed.

“One document says ‘it’s very important to keep secure the existence and location of the centre where the 12 detainees were interrogated secret’.

“That document was circulated while an inquiry was taking place. So, even while the inquiry was going on, the British Government were adamant that they had to keep the location and existence of the centre secure.”

The papers reveal that the 12 men, arrested as part of the internment of 350 people on August 9, 1971, were subject to deep interrogation under the five techniques system the European Commission has called ‘torture’. The techniques are wall-standing, sleep deprivation, hooding, starvation and white noise.

Duddy says that there was a “lack of correspondence” between what was said in the report and what was told to the European Commission.

7. Liam Campbell extradition refused

ON August 16 it was reported that judges at the Supreme Court in London had refused permission to appeal to lawyers for Liam 3Lithuania who wanted Britain’s highest court to overturn two previous rulings which blocked Liam Campbell’s extradition to that country.

However, the judges refused permission to appeal, deciding no point of law of general public importance had been raised. The verdict reached two weeks ago means that Liam Campbell is no longer subject to any proceedings. He has already had bail conditions, including electronic tagging and a prohibition on living outside the Six Counties, lifted.

Liam Campbell, Dundalk, spent nearly four years behind bars as Lithuanian authorities sought to have him face charges linked to an operation to acquire guns, ammunition and explosives and ship them into Ireland.

In February, a panel of High Court judges backed an earlier ruling refusing their extradition request. They decided that he would be held in inhuman and degrading conditions. Lithuania’s legal representatives then attempted to mount a further challenge to that determination.

Liam Campbell is a brother of Michael Campbell who is currently serving a prison sentence in Lithuania after being found guilty of weapons.

8. Industrial action to resume at Kells Credit Union

kellscustrike'13IT was reported on July 29 that SIPTU members in Kells Credit Union, Co Meath, would resume industrial action on Saturday, August 3. This would be followed by a series of rolling stoppages, according to SIPTU Organiser, Adrian Kane, who was speaking after a meeting of union members at the credit union.

“The industrial action will continue until such time as Kells Credit Union complies with the terms of a Labour Court recommendation concerning collective bargaining rights.

“SIPTU members in Kells Credit Union have great courage and a steely resolve. They are determined that they will not be denied the right to be represented collectively by a trade union,” he said.

“Adrian Kane said that the staff involved, who are all women, have been overwhelmed by the support they have received from the towns people, members of the credit union and local politicians who support their right to be represented by a trade union of their choice.

“Our members are available for meaningful talks but in light of the intransigence of the credit union management they have no option but to take to the picket line again,” he said.”

9. Call for renegotiation of toll road contracts

m3-toll'13IN A statement on July 7 TaraWatch called on the 26-County Minister for Transport to renegotiate the terms of concession agreements with tolling companies for the M3 Motorway and the Limerick Tunnel, and to publish the contracts. The statement said the Minister should examine how Portugal renegotiated similar contracts in 2010.

“The Minister has a duty to protect the taxpayer from having to pay toll companies €30 million under a ‘shadow tolling clause’ in the agreements, over the next three years, under minimum traffic guarantees secretly granted by the National Roads Authority (NRA) in 2006/7. That could amount to over €300 million over the next 30 years.

“In 2006, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, secretly received special permission from the European Commission to insert the minimum traffic guarantees into the M3 and Limerick tunnel, which would otherwise be considered state aid, in breach of EU competition law. Permission was granted on the basis that the roads on the basis that they were ‘necessary’ for ‘regional development’.

“The EU noted ‘private investors would not have accepted to take on the risk of the two projects without the construction payments, the operating payments and a guarantee from the government in respect of traffic volume’. This was due to the already low traffic predictions in 2006.

“However, the NRA withheld this information from the public consultation and the M3 Draft Tolling Scheme and oral hearing in 2007, and has refused to publish the M3 contract. It has recently removed the M3 Draft Tolling Scheme from its web site.

“Renegotiation of concession contracts by governments occurs frequently. According to EUROSTAT:

“ ‘In April 2011 and after consultation with EUROSTAT, Portugal decided to reclassify three motorway contracts, which were originally off the government’s balance sheet, to make them on-balance sheet. All three projects had originally been structured under shadow toll schemes some years ago and were then subject to renegotiation with the same partners in April 2010.’ ”

Law lecturer, Vincent Salafia, of TaraWatch, said:

“Minister Varadkar must renegotiate the onerous terms of these agreements, in accordance with international best-practice.

“The Government promised ‘burden-sharing’ in its election campaign and programme for Government, but placed the burden on the public alone.

“It is untenable for this Government to cling to costly agreements, made by the previous government, in different times, under questionable circumstances.”


10. Call for full public enquiry to investigate the relationship Gardaí and Shell

gardmayoshell'13On August 15 Partners in faith called for a full public enquiry to investigate the relationship between the Garda Síochána in Mayo and Shell E&P following publication of a recent newspaper article claiming that Shell E&P had €35,000 worth of alcohol delivered to Belmullet Garda station in December 2007.

They said: “The claim in the Observer newspaper article raises serious questions about the policing of the Corrib Gas Project in Mayo and also the activity of Shell E&P in Erris. These questions now need to be investigated thoroughly. The enquiry needs to address such questions as: ‘What was the purpose of the delivery of €35,000 worth of alcohol to Belmullet Garda station on behalf of Shell E&P in December 2007?

“‘What is the nature of the relationship between Shell E&P and the Garda Siochana in Mayo in which the delivery of such a major consignment of alcohol could take place?’ and

“ ‘What effect has this relationship of Garda and Shell had on the local community?’

“Partners in Faith believes the local community in Erris has suffered grave injustices over the last thirteen years. This is due to a questionable policing policy and a failed business model which has allowed a foreign multinational undue influence in the affairs of an Irish community. We believe the time has come for these issues to be fully addressed.”

Contact: Dave Donnellan (087 215 1930)

Refs: 1) Strange tale of Shell’s pipeline battle, the Gardaí and £30,000 of booze – Observer article; 2) Breakdown of Trust – Frontline Defenders report on Corrib gas dispute.

11. ‘The police keep firing; the bodies pile up. In Cairo, bloodbaths are now a daily occurrence’

dead-bodies-muslim-brotherhood'13THERE can be no excuse for the police whose duty is to protect all Egyptians.

It was a disgrace, a most shameful chapter in Egyptian history. The police – some wearing black hoods – shot down into the crowds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters from the roof of Cairo’s Ramses Street police station and surrounding streets.

They even fired at traffic on the airport highway. And to see their terrible work, you had only to climb the pink marble steps of the Al-Fath Mosque – sticky with fresh blood yesterday evening – and see the acre of wounded lying on deep-woven carpets and, in a remote corner, 25 shrouded corpses. Dr Ibrahim Yamani gently lifted the bandages from their bodies: shot in the face, shot in the head, shot in the chest.

So now we have the Ramses Square Massacre – these bloodbaths seem to come by the week, if not by the day – and even as I left the mosque last night, where praying Muslims knelt beside the moaning wounded, a team of paramedics pounded on the chest of a terribly wounded young man. “We are going to lose him,” one of the other doctors said. So was it now 26 dead? The paramedics talked of exploding bullets, and certainly one man’s head had been half blown away. His face was unrecognisable.

The flies were already gathering, swatted from one corpse by a man in tears who was kneeling on the ground. When they could, the medical staff wrote the names of the dead in crayon on their naked bodies. “Zeid Bilal Mohamed” was scrawled on one chest. The dead still deserve names. The last corpse to be brought into the mosque was that of Ahmed Abdul Aziz Hafez. There were – I couldn’t count after the first 50, but the doctors insisted on the figure – 250 wounded.

Egypt-Riot-13What was so extraordinary – not to the crowds, perhaps, for they have grown used to this thuggery – was to see some of the faces of the killers. There was a man with a moustache and close-cropped hair on the roof of the police station waving a pistol in the air and shouting obscenities to crowds on the motorway below him. To his left, a policeman wearing a black hood, crouching by the wall, pointed his automatic rifle at the cars on the highway. One of his bullets passed between my driver and myself, whizzing off into the square.

An hour earlier, I had been chatting to the security police at the burned-out Rabaa Mosque in Nasr City – the scene of Wednesday’s massacre – and one of them, in an all-black uniform, cheerfully told me that “we do the work, and the army watches”. This was one of yesterday’s more important truths. For the army stayed a mile from the slaughter in Ramses Square, sitting atop their spanking clean armoured vehicles. No blood on their spotless uniforms.

For two hours, the police gunfire swept the crowds. Two big police armoured cars appeared several times on an overpass and gunfire spattered down on to the square from two narrow steel turrets perched oddly atop the vehicles. At one point, a machine-gun could be heard firing at the crowd of 20,000, 30,000, and later, perhaps 40,000 people, but certainly not a million as the Brotherhood were to claim. The huge body of people twitched and moved like a bubble towards the mosque.

As the police drove up the overpass, dozens of young men – trapped by their approach – began shimmying down an electrical cable to the ground. But one boy jumped to the top of a tree, missed the highest branches, and fell 30 feet to the ground on his back. Panic, fear, fury – “See how they kill us!” a woman in a scarf shouted at us, not without reason – and, I suppose, a kind of courage seized the crowd. They knew this was going to happen. So did the police. The “government” – I suspect it deserves its quotation marks – told the people 24 hours earlier that any attacks on official buildings would be met with live fire. The cops had all the permission they needed. And all the ammunition.

But let us not be romantic about the Muslim Brotherhood. My colleague Alastair Beach saw a man in the crowd firing a rifle at the police. And I rather think those cops I saw on the roof were as fearful as some among the crowds. And – pardon this streak of cruel cynicism – the Brotherhood probably needed those corpses in the mosque yesterday. A day without martyrdom might suggest that the Brotherhood was finished, that the fire of ideology had indeed been damped down, that the Noor Party – the Salafists who with equally massive cynicism joined the military in crushing Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed presidency last month – might take their place as the only true Islamist right hand of the state, albeit in collaboration with the army.

But there was no excuse for the police. Their behaviour was not, I suppose, undisciplined. They had been told to kill, and kill they did – dozens of people were reported killed in clashes elsewhere in Egypt – and the “security” forces also now, I fear, deserve quotation marks around their title. The word “shame” – aib in Arabic – came to mind as we watched these awful scenes. In the centre of one of the greatest cities in the world, known to millions, scarcely a mile from the magnificence of the Egyptian Museum and the treasures of Tutankhamen, only 200 metres from the Courts of Justice – if “justice” is a word that could be uttered in Cairo yesterday – the police officers whose duty is to safeguard the lives of all Egyptians shot into thousands of their own citizens with the simple aim of killing them. And as they did so, the “Beltagi”, also in hoods, the drug-addicts and ex-cops who now form the praetorian guard of the “security” forces, turned up with rifles beside the police station.

Journalists there were aplenty – not that the police cared, for army helicopters hovered low over the crowds with video cameras, hunting for those all-important images of gunmen amid the people, perhaps the man whom Alastair Beach saw, or the groups of bearded youths who stood in the shade with their mobile phones ringing like grasshoppers. Not that we could hear them. The crack of gunfire drowned out all conversation, as clouds of tear gas swamped the streets, shrouding even the minaret of the Al-Fath Mosque.

Another bloody day, then. Funerals within 24 hours – if Cairo’s only mortuary can issue enough pre-burial death notices – and more “martyrs” for the cause.

I was struck yesterday by the face of one middle-aged man carried by five paramedics into the side door of the mosque. Blood was dribbling down his face on to the floor and pouring off his torso. His eyes were open and he stared at the doctors, the faces no doubt blurring past him on what may have been his last journey in life. And a few cameras clicked and a man said that God was great and the haunting face of the living dead was gone. And this is Egypt, two and a half years after the revolution that was supposed to bring freedom, justice and dignity. Forget democracy for the moment, of course.

— Robert Fisk, Ramses Square, Friday, August 16, 2013.


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