The Guardian & The Daily News Egypt & Democracy Now! & HyperVocal – 2011-12-07 19:58:07
RAW: Protesters Clash with Riot Police in Tahrir
The Daily News Egypt
US Firm’s Teargas Used against Tahrir Square Protesters
Jack Shenker and Luke Harding / The Guardian
CAIRO (November 21, 2011) — The teargas used by interior ministry troops in Cairo’s Tahrir Square is supplied by a US company. Demonstrators say cartridges retrieved from the scene are branded with the name and address of Combined Systems Inc (CSI).
The firm is located in Jamestown, Pennsylvania. It specialises in supplying what it calls “crowd control devices” to armies and “homeland security agencies” around the world. It also manufactures lethal military equipment.
Protesters say the CS gas seems more powerful than that used by Egyptian police during the country’s last popular uprising in February. “It’s stronger, it burns your face, it makes you feel like your whole body is seizing up,” one witness said. He added: “It doesn’t seem to be combated by Coke or vinegar.”
Experts told the Guardian the gas was likely to be standard CS gas, but the effects could be exacerbated by physical exertion.
As well as the effects of the teargas, protesters have suffered grave injuries to their heads and faces from rubber bullets. There are also reports of live ammunition being used. Dozens of people have been taken to makeshift hospitals after inhaling the choking gas fired by the Central Security Forces.
The export of teargas to foreign law enforcement agencies is not prohibited. CSI has also sold teargas to the Israeli police, where it has been deployed against Palestinian demonstrators, as well as, reportedly, to the regime of Tunisia’s ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Nevertheless, the revelation that people are being gassed and hurt by US-manufactured projectiles is embarrassing for the Obama administration.
“We have seen the illegitimate and indiscriminate use of teargas,” Heba Morayef, a researcher with Human Rights Watch in Cairo, said, of Egypt’s most recent street protests, as well as the original revolution in February. “There are a few cartridges from Italy but the vast majority are from the USA.”
She said teargas did not constitute direct military aid, since it was sold to the interior ministry rather than the army. But she added: “Ideally governments should be verifying who they are selling teargas to.”
Morayef said the gas was having a devastating effect on its victims, with everyone left choking, and hundreds forced to seek medical treatment. Protesters have also retrieved 12mm rubber bullet cartridges made in Italy. “One person I know ended up coughing up blood,” she said. Human Rights Watch intended to examine the canisters to discover exactly what kind of gas was being used, she added.
Alastair Hay, professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University, said police in Cairo were almost certainly using conventional CS gas. “It’s a standard riot control agent which has been around for a very long time,” he said.
Hay said its effects were extremely unpleasant. “It’s an eye and respiratory tract irritant, largely. It will also cause skin irritation.”
The chemical compound used in CS gas — 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile — was “perfectly legitimate”, with many commercial companies involved in selling it, and domestic governments willing to make use of it in riot situations, he added.
US army trials showed CS gas had a far more serious effect on people taking part in physical activity than those sitting passively, sometimes leaving its victims needing intensive care afterwards. The way to get rid of it was “constant irrigation” to wash away the affected areas, Hay said.
There was no immediate comment from CSI.
The company’s website says it was founded in 1981. It adds: “Combined Systems Inc (CSI) is a US-based firm that supports military forces and law enforcement agencies around the world. CSI is a premier engineering, manufacturing and supply company of tactical munitions and crowd control devices globally to armed forces, law enforcement, corrections and homeland security agencies.
“[…] In addition to its military products, CSI markets its innovative line of less lethal munitions, tactical munitions and crowd-control products to domestic law enforcement agencies under its law enforcement brand name, CTS. CSI also supports its wide base of international military and law enforcement customers with its line of non-lethal munitions.”
Not the First Time:
Bullets,Tear Gas, Tanks, Concussion Grenades Used on Egyptian Protesters Are Made in the US
CAIRO (January 21, 2011) — A range of “non-lethal” and deadly weapons turned on democracy demonstrators in Cairo were made-on-the-USA — part of a $2 billion aid package provided to the Mubarak regime by the Pentagon and State Department.
Egyptian Police Crack Down on Tahrir Protesters, Use Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets
UPDATE: During a third straight day of clashes on Monday, “Egypt’s state television says the Cabinet has submitted its resignation to the ruling military council but will stay on to run the nationâ€™s day-to-day affairs until a decision is made,” the Associated Press reported.
CAIRO (November 20, 2011) — Tens of thousands of Egyptians flocked to Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday to protest the military’s too-firm grip on power following the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak. On Saturday, Egyptian police and Army soldiers began to crack down on the protesters, mostly Islamists and young activists.
That meant tear gas and rubber bullets for those protesting the country’s current military rule. On Sunday, following two days of clashes with police, protesters came back to the square, the site of 18 days of earned freedom. Police and the military are have cleared the square several times, but every time protesters return, they try to clear the square again. You can see it all on the Al Jazeera live stream.
Twitter user @anjucomet posted this photo on Sunday: “8 unmoving bodies in tahrir, pic i took 3 hours ago, just got to computer 2 upload. not sure how many dead vs. unconscious.”
The military has claimed they would transfer power to elected civilians in 2012 but did not provide a firm date. Many are pushing for the military to set a date for elections no later than April 2012. “We have a single demand: The marshal must step down and be replaced by a civilian council,” said protester Ahmed Hani, referring Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Egyptâ€™s military ruler and Mubarak’s longtime defense minister. “The violence yesterday showed us that Mubarak is still in power,” Hani said.
Here’s what a tear gas assault by Egyptian police looked like on Saturday:
At least 33 people have reportedly been killed. At least 1,000 people were injured.
Issandr El Amrani on Sunday walked around Cairo’s Tahrir Square to see the damage of the previous night. “I headed out this morning to survey the damage — arriving from Qasr al-Aini, getting tear-gassed on Mohammed Mahmoud St, then circling around behind the police line from Bab al-Luk to take a look at the damage on the opposite side of Mohammed Mahmoud, near the American University in Cairo,” he wrote. “Finally I headed back to Tahrir Square to listen to some of the chants and the hypnotic banging on railings protestors tap, just like last January.” El Armani’s video is not embeddable, so click this link.
SAME GOES FOR THIS VIDEO FROM EL AMRANI. NOT EMBEDDABLE, BUT MUST-SEE STUFF.
Here’s one of the latest reports from Al Jazeera about the clashes and goals.