EGYPTIAN security forces violently evicted hundreds of protesters staging a sit-in on Monday, the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, destroying their tents and property in the process.
The activists had been camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where a revolution began in January, since July 8 in protest at the slow pace of reform since former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February.
Hundreds of armed soldiers and riot police entered the square at around 2.45pm today along with what appeared to be civilians carrying wooden sticks as shopkeepers and pedestrians cheered.
Many revolutionaries attempted to flee while others, including families of those killed by the police during the uprising, held their ground.
Video clip by kikhote
Eye witnesses reported that those who stayed were arrested, beaten or abused with several being taken to hospital.
Vendors’ stalls were also targeted.
By nightfall (7pm) the army and police remained in the square, still littered with debris, as traffic circulated for the first time in three and half weeks with small crowds on the periphery largely in favour of the operation while others voiced their anger.
Several hours later, as security forces withdrew, scores of activists regrouped, undeterred by the days events, marching round the square chanting anti-army slogans.
At the time of writing hundreds of riot police had re-entered the square surrounding protesters and blocking off the square before retreating, witnesses said.
Up until today the army had resisted moving in on activists but in recent statements it was clear the sit-in was testing its patience; a feeling endorsed by many.
Sensing increasing hostility to their presence (and the fact that more than 20 groups left on Saturday for Ramadan), the remaining groups agreed to open the square to traffic but the decision was blocked by a minority controlling the roadblocks and checkpoints.
The army’s leadership, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, has acted as the country’s president since March and so is blamed for failing to put on trial the police and ministers responsible for at least 846 civilian deaths during the uprising between January 25 and February 11.
Activists also want to see an end to military trials for civilians which have resulted in convictions following ten-minute trials with no defence lawyer, according to Human Rights Watch.
Following the days events there were unconfirmed reports of more than 80 arrests including BBC reporter, Shaima Khalil.
Soldiers, police and even members of the public attempted to prevent people from filming or taking pictures.
One activist tweeted her phone was smashed in front of her by soldiers, while I witnessed a cameraman being attacked shortly after I was warned not to film by a member of the public.
It seems while Tahrir is returning back to its old ways so is the security forces and government.