This guest post by ALIA ALLANA is a despatch for Kafila from Cairo, the eighth in a series of ground reports from the Arab Spring. Videos and photos by Alia Allana
A peaceful protest with men selling candyfloss and making chai turned into an orgy of violence.
Tahrir Square had been quiet for the earlier part of the day today. The Sunday afternoon saw couples strolling, a mother carried her sleeping child, his face was buried in her bosom, scooters with loud speakers blared music. There was no chanting and very few slogans. Small and sporadic groups of people protested. They called for change.
Continue reading An account of deadly clashes in Tahrir Square: Alia Allana
The Arab Turmoil
According to a report in The Guardian, the movement in Egypt that overthrew the regime of Hosni Mubarak is “a movement led by tech-savvy students and twentysomethings – labour activists, intellectuals, lawyers, accountants, engineers – that had its origins in a three-year-old textile strike in the Nile Delta and the killing of a 28-year-old university graduate, Khaled Said”. It has emerged, says the report, “as the centre of what is now an alliance of Egyptian opposition groups, old and new.” The April 6 Youth Movement (primarily a Facebook network), came into existence in in 2008, in support of the ongoing workers’ struggle in the industrial town of El-mahalla El-Kubra primarily on issues related to wages. The struggle in the past few years, also moved towards a restructuring of unions with government appointed leaders. The list of demands for the April 6 strike also included a demand for raising the national minimum wages that had remained stagnant for over two and a half decades. Increasing workers militancy over the past few years was a direct response to the World Bank imposed ‘reforms’ that had pushed lives of industrial labour to the brink. It was this sharpening conflict, consequent upon the serious impact of structural adjustment policies, that provides the backdrop in which the middle class youth decided to rally in support of the April 6 2008 strike. It was they who converted the call for an industrial strike into a general strike, according to some reports. It is virtually impossible to get a sense of any of this in the ecstatic reports of the ‘networking babalog’ making a revolution that is now all over the Indian media.
Continue reading The ‘Viral’ Revolutions of Our Times – Postnational Reflections
Every time I go to Sri Lanka, my historical sensibility gets heightened. I still remember this huge hoarding of Mahinda Rajapaksa ‘lovingly’ holding an old woman, obviously Tamil as she was wearing a pottu. That woman could be one of the 2.5 lakh people who have lost their homes, belonging and land in the war. She could be part of the other lakhs who have lost all of this in the more than twenty-five years of war.
The day before yesterday, 26th January, was the first ‘free’ election ‘after the war’. During the months before the election, 700 incidents of violence were reported, leading to the death and injury of many. Yesterday, as the results rolled out, chaos hit the streets of Colombo. We don’t even have enough information about what happened in the rest of the country yesterday. Rumours were floating about. I shall not dwell on the rumours and provide them legitimacy, although I am tempted to, as some of them are shocking and could be true. Ethics come in the way. Continue reading The absurd theatre of Sri Lanka, applauded by India