|General Sisi and Judge Mansour
We, representatives of a spectrum of civil society groups, as well as Egyptians resident in South Africa, are today protesting outside the Egyptian embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, because, as people who love democracy, justice and human rights, we are appalled and outraged by your actions over the past two months.
Before we explain, allow us to state that we are unsure how to refer to you. General Sisi is the architect and implementer of a brutal coup against a democratically-elected government and democratically-elected parliament. Judge Mansour is a civilian fig leaf for the military authority of General Sisi. We do not recognise any positions you have given yourselves or each other since the coup of 3 July. You were, in the last days of the democratically-elected government, minister of defence and head of the Constitutional Court respectively. We do not think that we can refer to you with those titles either, after the crimes you have committed against democracy and the Egyptian people. You, sirs, are nothing other than anti-democratic, vile putschists!
Just over two years ago, the delusional dictator Hosni Mubarak – the man that you loyally served and to whose policies you remain loyal – was overthrown, and Egyptians saw the hope of a democratic future. Since then, the Egyptian people participated in two referenda and three elections, freely electing lower and upper houses of parliament and a president, and endorsing a new constitution.
However, as these processes unfolded, the military headed by you, General Sisi, which has ruled Egypt for six decades with an iron fist and with the help of your brutal mokhabarat security services, subverted democracy as you plotted to undermine the will of the people and to return Egypt to military rule. Together with the judiciary, populated by Mubarak loyalists like you, Judge Mansour, the army dissolved the lower house of parliament, reduced the powers of the new president, refused to make military activities and finances transparent to the new government, got civil servants across the country (including the police) to stay away from work, caused artificial shortages of fuel, and, in general, ensured that Egyptians – especially the poor – would suffer more under a democratic government than before. All these activities culminated in the military coup of 3 July 2013.
With and after the coup, President Mohamed Morsi and his advisers were arrested and detained – mostly incommunicado; almost the entire leadership of the Freedom and Justice Party and the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested; anti-coup media have been shut down and proscribed; and around 2 000 people have been killed in a series of massacres perpetrated by your army and your thugs employed by the ministry of the interior – those in and out of uniform. And now that most Islamist leaders have been shut away, you have turned your despotic and repressive focus on worker leaders, liberals, and anyone else you fear might be critical of the coup.
Congratulations, you have succeeded in returning Egypt to Mubarakism! You have instituted martial law and a state of emergency in most of the country. Of course, disgraceful coup-makers who subvert democracy cannot rule except with emergency powers. Isn’t that how you ruled Egypt for the past few decades?
We join with the South African government and the African Union in condemning your 3 July coup; we spit on and dismiss with contempt your puppet, pliant coup-supporting ‘interim government’; we are saddened and angered by the massacres that you committed to protect your illegal and immoral coup; we condemn your demonisation and hunting down of the supporters of democracy. Your repetition, ad nauseum, that democratically-elected parliamentarians and their associates are ‘terrorists’ does not fool us; indeed, they cause us to puke! We condemn all that has resulted from the coup, including the disgraceful attacks on churches and other Christian buildings – irrespective of where these attacks might emanate from.
We join with democrats around the world, with our government, with the African Union, in calling for a return to democracy in Egypt. We demand:
- that you, your army, your interior ministry, and your thugs end the bloody crackdown against Egyptian people;
- the unconditional release of all Egyptian political detainees;
- the reopening of all media that you shut down since 3 July in order to prevent any criticism of your coup;
- the launch of a genuine and comprehensive transition process to allow for a return to constitutional democracy;
- that you allow the Muslim Brotherhood and other parties, organisations and trade unions to operate freely;
- that your army ensures the protection of all Egyptian civilians and ensures that the security forces end their bloodshedding;
- that your army returns to its barracks and plays the role that a national army should, and not seek to control the politics and economy of Egypt;
- that the United Nations sets up a credible, transparent and impartial international judicial investigation to identify and prosecute those responsible for the massacres conducted by Egyptian security forces since 30 June 2013;
Further, we demand that you immediately cease your disgusting and xenophobic demonisation and persecution of Palestinians and Syrians, that you immediately reopen the Rafah border post, and that you cease the destruction of the tunnels that connect Egypt to Gaza – the vital lifeline for the people of Gaza who have lived under an Israeli-imposed siege since 2007. You have been, and are, collaborators with Zionism and with the apartheid state of Israel, choosing your alliance with that racist state above the Palestinians, and, indeed, above the interests of the Egyptian people. This makes you akin to foreign agents seeking the destruction of Egypt and the undermining of the Arab people.
Finally, we take this opportunity to inform you that while we support the position that the South African government has taken on your coup, we will be demanding of our government that South Africa immediately joins Venezuela, Ecuador and Turkey and withdraws our ambassador from Cairo in protest against your putsch and your murderous defence of it.