Military obstructs student march to defense ministry

CAIRO: Military forces blocked El-Khalifa El-Maamoun Street, preventing a march of around 1,500 students denouncing military rule from reaching the nearby Ministry of Defense on Wednesday.

The march kicked off from Ain Shams University premises headed by about 600 engineering students who condemned the violence in downtown Cairo and called for the prosecution of those responsible for the shooting of their colleague, 20-year-old Mohamed Mostafa, who died Wednesday evening as a result of a gunshot wound.

“Whether you are pro-SCAF or anti-SCAF, no one should accept the killing of unarmed protesters,” said Amr Shawki, a fourth year engineering student. “How much more blood should be spilt before we speak up? We can’t wait another six months, SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] must go now,” he added.

The students had four main demands: SCAF to hand over power immediately to a civilian authority; an end to the bloodshed, an end to military trials and the trial of those responsible for violence against protesters.

The students marched from the engineering building in Abdo Basha Street near Abbaseya at 1 pm, cordoned by other students, who check the faculty IDs of those who want to join. The march reached the university’s main campus where it was joined by another march from the Faculty of Commerce.

“Students had the courage to do what we couldn’t do, we learned not to speak up and not to demand our rights, they are the future,” said El-Tayeb Ahmed, a professor at the Faculty of Engineering. “This march’s main purpose is to prosecute the murderers of our children, and if SCAF can’t do it, then I accuse them of being the killers,” he added.

By 2 pm, the march reached over 1,500 students from different faculties in front of the main campus, chanting against SCAF.

“The students are the new generation, they will bring our rights” said Hoda Shaaban, a housewife who joined the student march. “I don’t want SCAF, they must go now,” she added.

“All I want is to cleanse the country of the old regime’s forces, represented in SCAF,” said Rana Ahmed, literature student and a socialist activist. “I have high hopes in the students, they are the last hope for this revolution, and they will revive it,” she added.

Military police blocked Khalifa Maamoun Street, a few hundred meters away from the Ministry of Defense, preventing students from reaching it as they chanted against the ruling council, while three professors made sure no one approached the army line to prevent any confrontations.

Protesters then sat in the street chanting until sunset, and said they planned on coming back the next day to join medical students who are organizing a march to the same destination to condemn the killing of their colleague Alaa Abdel Hady, who was shot in Tahrir last week.

Meanwhile, the GUC Rebels, a student movement at the German University in Cairo, and the GUC student union organized a campaign to raise awareness about the current situation.

“We hung a big banner that read ‘On the occasion of the end of military rule, what would you like to say’ right in the middle of campus, and students wrote letters and chanted against SCAF,” said Mohamed Dawoud, GUC student union member. “We play videos to reveal the army violations and tell people the truth that state TV won’t show,” he said.

“There is a strong student uprising in Egypt. We are 2.5 million students, students alone can topple SCAF,” Dawoud added.

“Students will end military rule when they strike with the help of workers who will join the movement,” said Amr Abdel Wahab, a GUC Rebels member. “Those SCAF generals should be jailed for their crimes and for killing unarmed civilians in the street,” he added.

Meanwhile, the national university’s student union will launch an initiative next week, titled “The Week of Student Rage,” when many on-campus protests are planned.

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