Egyptians’ atrocities under the Military Coup presented to the Canadian Civil Society and official politicians
Arabic Report: (التقرير بالعربية)
As a conclusion of Dr. Azzam’s, the head of the ERC, visit to Canada, she and Mr. Lotayef the president of the ECCD presented, in a joint press conference from the Press Gallery of the Canadian Parliament, on August 17, 2016, the demands of the civil Society, human rights organizations and the Egyptians people. That the Canadian Government, and the international community, show solidarity with the Egyptian people and pressure the Egyptian regime to respect people’s right of peaceful assembly, protecting the demonstrators during their assembly, and to respect the human rights especially the rights of inmates to be treated to the international standard. In addition to that, they called for international investigation on the Rabaa massacre and on the condition of the prisoners, to halt all sale of arms and any military related equipment to Egypt and link all trade with the Egyptian regime to the respect of Human Rights.
Prior to the press conference, for more than a week, in a joint effort, local and international Egyptian organizations presented to the media, the civil society, the government and political parties the plight of the Egyptians under the Military rule, through several conferences and seminars in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
As the WSF came to Montreal, for the first time since the first WSF that kicked-off on January 25th, 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the three organizations ERC, ECCD and ECHO joined effort and created what is been known as the ‘Egyptian Bloc for Democracy’.
While the Arab Spring was introduced to social forums twice before, the Canadian Social Forum in 2014 and then the WSF in 2015, that took place in Tunisia where the Egyptian question was welcomed by the participants.
The presence of the Egyptian Bloc in the opening march that took place on August 9 in Montreal’s sunny afternoon was noticeable. The Egyptian Bloc’s youth wore their yellow T-shirts and the yellow flag that was symbol during the conference’s 5 days. T-shirts carried the slogans of the Arab Spring of ‘Bread, Liberty, Social Justice’, and listed the crimes committed by the Military Coup (more than 3000 killed, and more than 50000 imprisoned without a due process, no freedom of expression). The Egyptian team was more than noticeable in their booth in Complexe Desjardins, in their wonderful theater piece that described the Rabaa massacre (presented in English and in French) and in their seven conferences. The Egyptian Bloc For Democracy formed the biggest activities brought to the WSF’s life on a single issue.
The Egyptian Bloc presented six self-organized seminars and a grand conference. During the first seminar, Ovide Bastien, a professor of philosophy, an expert on the Military Coup in Chile that took place in 1973 and an author of several books among them ‘Chili: le coup divin’, with Dr. Ashraf Fouad, the head of ECHO, presented the similarities between both coups (Egypt and Chile), the hypocrisy of the west in dealing with the coup in both cases, and how Chilean people regained their country.
Joe Stork, the Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch and the supervisor of the report ‘All According to Plan’ that was issued a year after the Rabaa Massacre, with Dr. Yaser Haddara, a cofounder of the ECCD, presented the mass killings of the protesters in Egypt. Joe was clear in describing this massacre as a “pre-planned killing of peaceful demonstrators”, and he called it “the worse massacre in the modern history in one day against peaceful demonstrators, worse than Tiananmen Square”.
Dr. Mohamad Elmasry, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama, and Dr. Ahmed Abdelkader, the Vice-President of the ECCD, presented the plight of journalism and the freedom of speech under the Military Coup, and how journalism and all media of Egypt lost their way and became a one-sided directed media.
Mrs. Peggy Mason, the president of the Rideau Institute, a Canadian independent think tank focusing on research and advocacy in foreign, defence and national security policy, with Mr. Ehab El-Komy, the Secretary General of ECCD, addressed the Western application of universal value, between selling arms and trade with non-democratic regime, and how this applies to Egypt while its regime is violating all international laws and basic human rights.
Mr. Tarek Chatila, MENA specialist and writer for Amnesty Canada, and Dr. Mohamed Salah, Board Member of the ERC, presented the suffering of the prisoners under the military coup, both addressing the latest Amnesty International report issued about the conditions in Egypt.
Nadia Abu Zahrah, Associate Professor of International Development and Global Studies and a member of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, and Mrs. Samaa Elibyary, member of ECCD’s political committee, presented the situation of women and children under dictatorship, where they addressed Dr. Nadia’s latest research and several other reports.
In addition to these six self-organized seminars, the Egyptian Bloc for Democracy, in coordination with the central organization of the WSF, presented Dr. Maha Azzam, the head of the ERC, who was a fellow on the Middle East and North Africa Program, Chatham House, and Mr. Haroon Siddiqui, the Editorial Page Editor Emeritus of the Toronto Star, presenting the Egyptian experience of the Arab Spring in a very dynamic conference in front of almost 600 attendees.
As the closure of the WSF was the same day as the commemoration of Rabaa Massacre, that took place three years ago on August 14, 2013, the Egyptian bloc closed the conference with a vigil in one of Montreal’s biggest parks, ‘Parc Jarry’; where Dr. Azzam addressed the gathering of Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike commemorating the Rabaa massacre. Dr. Azzam left Montreal after the vigil to address a similar one on the same day in Toronto.
In addition to the grand conference that took place in Montreal, Dr. Azzam met with the Egyptian community in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa.
Dr. Azzam and Dr. Yaser Haddara, cofounder of the ECCD, addressed Egyptians and non-Egyptians audience in Montreal. While in Toronto, she addressed the audience jointly with Mohamed Kamel, the Secretary General of the ERC. In both conferences they addressed the audience’s concern about the situation in Egypt and the future of the revolution.
At Ottawa University, Dr. Azzam spoke about the situation in Egypt and the ways to advance the Egyptian cause. While Dr. Halim Yanikomeroglu, an engineering professor and a researcher on the Turkish History, spoke about the Turkish experience in democratic development, and their experience with military coup, specially that last attempt.
Dr. Azam and a few of the ECCD board members met and had an open and frank discussion with several MPs from different political parties. From the Liberal party, they met with Karen McCrimmon, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and with Iqraa Khalid, member of the Human right subcommittee in the Canadian Parliament. From the NDP, they met with the foreign affair citric, Mme Hélène Laverdière, and with Mr. Daniel Green, the deputy leader of the Green Party.
Dr. Azzam’ visit and the WSF was a show of solidarity with the Egyptian people. A strong proof that Egyptians are not alone in their struggle for Bread, Liberty and Social Justice. All seminars and conferences are available on egyptnow.ca.
* The ‘Egyptian Bloc for Democracy’:
In solidarity with the Egyptian People and the principals of January 25 Revolution,
- The Egyptian Revolutionary Council ERC, an international organization. Established August 8, 2014 to oppose the Military coup and the role of the military in Egyptian political life. ercegypt.org
- Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy ECCD, a pan-Canadian coalition. Established September 7, 2013 to oppose the military coup, to inform the Canadian public and government about the situation in Egypt and to make recommendations to Ottawa. eccd.ca
Report prepared on August 19, by:
Mohamed S Kamel
Secretary General of the ERC and the coordinator of the Egyptian Bloc