Hail the heroes of Liberation Square
Published Feb 4, 2011 2:33 PM
Liberation (Tahrir) Square, Cairo, Feb. 1.
Feb. 4 — The battle in Cairo’s massive central square to oust the
dictator and U.S. stooge Hosni Mubarak will go down in history as a pivotal
moment, whatever its outcome.
The masses in Tahrir (Liberation) Square — now known among the fighters
as Martyrs’ Square — gave the counterrevolutionary thugs of a dying
regime blow for blow, pushed them back and held the square, thus achieving both
a military and political victory. and political victory. They were fully aware
of the crucial political importance of holding the square for the people. This
was a victory for the masses of Egyptian people, the people of the Middle East
as a whole, and the workers and oppressed of the world.
The Mubarak regime made a brutal attempt to reverse the powerful momentum of
the uprising after millions of people had come out for the “million
person march” all over the country on Tuesday. What was purported to be
the largest demonstration in the history of Cairo gathered in Tahrir
Key to the Mubarak regime’s desperate attempt to regain its position was
the drive to sweep the demonstrators away by force and violence and take the
square for the counterrevolution. In addition to aiming for the political
symbolism of retaking the square from the popular anti-government forces, the
goal was to sow terror and fear among the population.
Thanks to the thousands of defenders who risked life and limb for two days, the
regime failed on both counts. The defense of the square on Wednesday and
Thursday, Feb. 2 and 3, cleared the way for the enormous outpouring on Friday,
the “Day of Departure,” and allowed the struggle to regain its
Undoubtedly, the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and Wall
Street all watched the heroic defense in and around the square with great
apprehension as they saw Mubarak’s thugs beaten back. This must have
accelerated the efforts of the imperialist ruling class to pressure Mubarak to
The defense of the square was a glorious example of rapid self-organization by
the people. Thousands of demonstrators vowed to remain in the square until
Mubarak and his regime were gone. They were suddenly confronted by thousands of
plainclothes police, Ministry of the Interior spies and employees, members of
the ruling party and miscellaneous hired thugs. There are 1.5 million police
and 3 million members of the ruling party.
These dregs of Egyptian society had been brought in by buses and vans by the
regime to a staging area near the square. At 2:15 p.m. they were given the
signal to charge. The military, which at first held them back, let them in to
go on a rampage. Wielding pipes, chains, rubber hoses, knives, clubs with nails
in them, and guns, and hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails, they charged the
Within a short time the demonstrators set up defense barricades of metal
sheets, iron fences, overturned cars, boards and anything else that could serve
as a shield and a barrier. Groups were organized to defend different points and
to set up checkpoints around and leading to the square.
The sidewalks were chopped up to make rocks to throw. Bottles were brought from
everywhere to make Molotov cocktails. An unnamed Al Jazeera online producer was
on the scene and reported from a checkpoint into the square: “Rocks were
stacked in piles around the streets and Molotov cocktail bottles sat next to
one another near a tree — a revolutionary armory.” Food and other
supplies were brought in and distributed. A steady drumming kept up morale.
The reporter spoke with Hossan Eid al-Sharqawy, the leader at the checkpoint.
“Hosni Mubarak kills his own people,” he said. “If I die here
tonight, you will tell my story.”
That explains how the mood and the slogans changed in the square from
“We’re going to stay in the square” to “We’re
going to die in the square.”
As the battle became fierce, casualties mounted on both sides. Hundreds of
demonstrators received head wounds, stab wounds and broken bones. Many suffered
gunshot wounds. Before dawn on Thursday, the government thugs opened fire. The
number of deaths in the square was reported as 10 to 15, but was probably much
Makeshift field hospitals were set up in alleyways. One mosque was turned into
a field hospital. Volunteer doctors poured into the square to help the wounded
while demonstrators assisted. “Mubarak told them to kill us,” said
Osama Hilal, a doctor who was treating the wounded at a makeshift triage
center. “He thinks he will succeed to make all the people get out of the
square. But we will not leave.” (Washington Post, Feb. 2)
The defenders captured 350 of the counterrevolutionary forces. The office of a
travel agency was transformed into a holding center for the captured thugs.
They were handcuffed with plastic twists. Police and Ministry of Interior
identity cards as well as National Democratic Party cards were taken and shown
to the press. They were then turned over to the army.
The bravery, determination, creativity and resourcefulness of the unarmed
masses on-the-spot military organizing to beat back this vicious surprise
attack shows what potential there is for much wider and broader mass efforts.
They will be needed to drive out the old regime, which is backed by U.S.
imperialism and all the imperialist powers, which want to hold the reins of
Egyptian society, by hook or by crook.
Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World.
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