As Port Said strikes, protest calls spread to other governorates

As Port Said strikes, protest calls spread to other governorates

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Wed, 20/02/2013 - 15:19

Calls for civil disobedience campaigns have spread to the canal city of Ismailia and the Delta city of Kafr al-Sheikh, as protests and mass strikes in Port Said continue into their fourth day.

Protests in Port Said are ongoing, as residents have lashed out at the government’s failure to investigate the deaths of more than 40 protesters during violent clashes that erupted last month when 21 local youths were sentenced to death. All 21 were defendants in the Port Said football violence trial, and were found guilty of being responsible for the killings of 72 Ahly fans after a football match in February 2012.

Opposition groups and youth movements in Ismailia have called for a similar civil disobedience campaign there, partially out of solidarity with Port Said residents and partially to press their own demands for revolution goals to be realized.

Protesters marched in front of the Ismailia Governorate headquarters Wednesday morning, calling on employees to join the campaign on 1 March. Security forces maintained a tight presence as protesters circled the building.

In a statement titled “Let us Live,” protest organizers said, “Civil disobedience has been announced as the only solution to achieve the goals of the revolution, none of which have so far been achieved. We will start the implementation with a silent protest at the Ismailia Governorate headquarters and the City Council to inform the people of civil disobedience as a peaceful tool to [reject] the policies of the regime and urge people to participate in it."

The statement added that the campaign would be implemented at five government institutions and service directorates, before expanding to the departments of supply, agriculture, education, and the free investment zone in the governorate.

The bakeries division of the Ismailia Chamber of Commerce also said in a statement Tuesday that it would go on strike on 1 March to protest the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade’s failure to pay compensation.

In Kafr al-Sheikh, members of the National Salvation Front opposition coalition issued a statement on Wednesday threatening to start a civil disobedience campaign if certain demands are not met.

The statement said the protests were against the governor’s appointment of what it described as “incompetent” Muslim Brotherhood members and allies to leadership positions, alleging that the appointments were part of a plan to “Brotherhoodize” the governorate.

"Services in the governorate have deteriorated like never before," they said, adding that the governor should be removed "to defuse societal tension in the governorate."

Meanwhile, protests and strikes in Port Said continued as several families of victims killed in January’s clashes camped out overnight in Shohada Square in front of the governorate headquarters.

Workers at a Port Said shipyard continued their sit-in, while some residents and members of local football fan clubs continued to block the road to Sharq al-Tafrea port, the country's largest seaport on the Mediterranean.

At the same time, workers from the Suez Canal Authority’s navigation department issued a statement expressing solidarity with calls for the resignation and prosecution of Port Said security chief Mohsen Radi and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

The workers threatened to join the campaign and suspend their work if their demands were not met.