On November 28, 2011, five workers at the Port of Suez took a stand for justice by officially refusing to allow a U.S. shipment of lethal tear gas into Egypt. According to documents seen by the workers and leaked to the media, the port of origin was Wilmington, Delaware.
Although the Egyptian government later ordered the shipment released, the workers’ courageous action reflects widespread anger over growing repression by the ruling Supreme Council Armed Forces (SCAF) against “25 January Revolution” protesters.
“I haven’t been part of the protests, although I supported it in my heart, but I believe that we could take a stand for justice in workplaces, homes and communities as much as we can in our streets”, said Esmaa, the young woman who led the port workers’ action.
Just a few days earlier, the identical tear gas and other U.S. weapons were used to brutalize scores of peaceful Egyptian protesters. During the last week of November, gas inhalation was responsible for the death of at least three of the 56 protesters killed, while causing many others to suffer unconsciousness and epileptic-like convulsions. In recent weeks, storms of tear gas have been directed at young protestors, as a means to terrorized and deter political participation. Thousands have been injured.
Tear gas cartridges retrieved from the scene of the massacres bore the name of Combined Systems Inc., of Jamestown, Pennsylvania.
A year into the revolution, an unprecedented number of Egyptian workers and youth retuned to Tahrir (Liberation Square) to demand the fulfillment of their revolutionary demands, including: An end to military rule, accountability for deaths and injuries of scores of peaceful protestors, and the end to the criminalization of labor activism and political participation.
These demands are being brought into public spaces throughout Egypt, met with state sponsored violence, as seen in a recent massacre of over 100 Soccer fans in Port Said.
On February 11th a General Strike has been called by workers and students to push forth the demands of the revolution, despite the repression they may face.
Like U.S. wars, sponsorship of Israel, and support for numerous dictatorships throughout the region, shipment of arms to the Egyptian regime has everything to do with protecting the global 1%.
The Egyptian Revolution has its roots in workers’ economic and political struggles, and has inspired many other international social justice movements of the 99%, including Occupy Wall Street. For all those reasons, we ask you to stand with us by:
– Discussing the struggle of Egyptian workers with your workmates.
– Making a statement or holding actions in solidarity with Egyptian workers.
– Blocking shipment of tear gas and all other weapons from the United States to Egypt.
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