To shoot or not to shoot

I knew the overthrown regime was ruthless and brutal, but if the following is true, then I have no words to describe so much evil. It is beyond my comprehension to digest this lack of humanity.

Robert Fisk in his article ‘As Mubarak clings on… What now for Egypt?’, published in The Independent on Friday, 11 February 2011, states that the Army received direct orders to shoot at the protesters in Tahrir. According to his account, the soldiers on the ground refused to follow orders. However, Fisk did not state any sources for his claims, so I started researching his statement. Fortunately, or more so unfortunately, I stumbled upon a piece of footage that supports his claims. Below I am quoting Robert Fisk followed by the footage, which I have translated into English in the transcript thereafter.

Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier’s growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks. But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Footage of an interview made with one of the soldiers in Tahrir on Saturday, 29 January 2011, posted on YouTube by lastnight80 on Wednesday, 2 February 2011.

Video Transcript

Were there orders to shoot today?
Soldier: There were orders this morning and we refused to follow.

To shoot at the protesters?
Soldier: To shoot at these people.

With live ammunition?
Soldier: With our artillery and these tankers.

An what happened?
Soldier: We don’t hit the people. We are the people. No one would hit their brother and father.
(In the background someone starts shouting out hero, hero)

Did you receive your orders to shoot from the Presidential line or from the Army line?
Soldier: It came from the Presidential line.

From the Presidency?
Soldier: Yes.

(Then the chants break out)

Whether there were orders to shoot or not to shoot, this remains the question.

One Response to “To shoot or not to shoot”

  1. Well said, have been anxious and furious about this myself.

    I am alarmed at how few people seem to be concerned that we have moved from a state of autocratic dictatorship to military dictatorship. I do not understand why people trust the army so much – never trust a man with a gun!

    The removal of Mubarak was a success, but some of the points of these protests were to dismantle the old regime, abolish corruption & the emergency laws and establish free & democratic elections. Other than a promise from the army that this will happen in 6 months, what else do we have? The same unfair emergency laws, old familiar Mubarak appointed faces in charge and the army already trying to prevent protests and strikes in an undemocratic fashion.

    The military who have taken power may have some sort of mandate, but they have no legitimacy as rulers in my eyes. The sovereignty moved from Mubarak to the people in 18 days, we have to make sure that the power does not back up from below and that we don’t end up back at square one.

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