Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category


people power

what an awkward phrase!

why not people’s power?

people power though is

what we have.

Gnadhi leading the salt march

Gandhi leading the salt march

the power of the people
comes in different
shapes and smells
some are perfumed
others are sweaty
some are veiled
others are turbaned
some are bare-headed
others are masked
some are armed
most are not
save for their ardor
and resolve.

Rebel soldier fighting against the Caetano Salazar dictatorship during the 1975 Carnation Revolution in Portugal

Rebel soldier fighting against the Caetano Salazar dictatorship during the 1975 Carnation Revolution in Portugal

Soldiers, priests, and ordinary people unite against the Shah during the 1979 Iranian revolution

Soldiers, priests, and ordinary people unite against the Shah during the 1979 Iranian revolution

Egyptian women calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir square, Cairo, February 2011

Egyptian women calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir square, Cairo, February 2011

people power
the power of the people
from Lisboa to Beograd and Kyiv
Tunis to Cairo
Manila to Tbilisi
Seoul to Taipei
Tehran to Santiago de Chile
can only oust leaders
t’is impossible to unite millions
on more than that
the outstanding exception
Martin Luther King’s quest
for equal rights and emancipation.

Protests in Bangkok against government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

Protests in Bangkok against government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra

Farewell sign for Tunisian prime minister Ben Ali, January 2011

Farewell sign for Tunisian prime minister Ben Ali, January 2011

The universal way to win over battle-hardened soldiers

The universal way to win over battle-hardened soldiers

Martin Luther King delivering his "I have a dream" speech during the 1963 march on Washington, DC

Martin Luther King delivering his “I have a dream” speech during the 1963 march on Washington, DC

Note:  all photos were taken from the public domain.


I knew it!

Sort of….

The Dasma Village guards gave us (me and my students in International Political Economy at UP Diliman) the “royal” run-around when we tried to deliver a letter of support for the Egyptian people in the struggle against the Mubarak regime last January.

This after we told the same guards that we communicated earlier that day with the executive secretary of the Libyan ambassador to the Philippines and agreed upon a 3:00 pm courtesy call/embassy visit.

We consulted and re-consulted the Gods of Google Maps and we have been told that the Egyptian Embassy is located inside Dasmarinas Village, Paraiso Street to be exact.

Only to be told by the over-zealous guards acting upon the orders of unnamed village association officials (the reasons behind these orders we know nothing of) that the Egyptian embassy was not in, was not ever in Dasma Village.

Over my protestations that I had just communicated with the secretary of the Egyptian ambassador, the guards told us that the Egyptian Embassy was located in a building (the name of said structure I can no longer recall) inside Salcedo (or Legaspi) Village in Makati.

We have been had!

We were given the run-around!

After travelling en-masse from UP Diliman!

We were lied to!

And that’s quite grating since we believe we’re intelligent.

But we were definitely out-witted by lying village guards!

The Dasmarinas Village in Makati may be private property.  

However, it houses several foreign embassies and thus access and entry through village gates to get to these embassies is a matter of great public interest.

Thus, it not right or proper for village officials to decide on their own. 

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Note from Bong Mendoza:

This blog entry stimulated by a comment by NDC on my earlier blog entry entitled: “Where’s the Egyptian embassy in Makati?” last January 2011.

NDC’s comment and my reply is reproduced below. 


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NDC says:
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Sir,

The Egyptian embassy is indeed in Dasma village, but an ongoing feud between the village assoc. and the embassies have resulted in numerous harassment incidents of embassy visitors by the village’s security guards. I had a similar experience two years ago when I was trying to go to the Turkish embassy to apply for a tourist visa. I left my driver’s license with the village guard while he made me park by the roadside (inside Dasma) while he “called the embassy”. I proceeded to the embassy when I didn’t hear from him after 20 mins., but was subsequently escorted to the guards’ HQ, where they threatened to charge me with “illegal entry.” Here are some other horror stories of people who’ve tried to go to the embassies in Dasma:

http://superch.multiply.com/journal/item/16/eh_ume-Embassy_e?&item_id=16&view:replies=reverse
http://www.pbase.com/cmanaginged/image/87077643
http://faithlessphil.livejournal.com/182925.html

  • bongmendoza says:
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    Thanks so much NDC for your very informative comment. So, we were right all along that the Egyptian embassy was inside Dasma and not in some alleged building in Salcedo Village, Makati.

    The nerve of those guards and the village association officials to deny entry and/or pester embassy visitors!

    Don’t they know that the embassies are the sovereign national territories of the states concerned?

    Let’s assume that the entry/paths/gates into the village are Dasma village assets/property. But I believe they do not have a right to restrict entry or make life difficult for embassy visitors.

    Attention DFA!

    Attention new DFA Secretary del Rosario!

    We believe this problem needs resolution!


Last 31 January, I, together with my graduate students in International Political Economy (IPE) at the University of the Philippines, tried to deliver a letter to the Egyptian Embassy in the Philippines.

The letter expressed our solidarity with the Egyptians struggling for freedom and human dignity and our concern on the violent police crackdown on non-violent demonstrators.

I consulted the gods of Google, the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and other sources and learned that the Egyptian embassy is located inside Dasmarinas Village, Makati City, near the Santuario de San Antonio Church.

The corner of Banyan and Paraiso streets inside Dasmarinas Village to be exact.

We assembled at the Starbucks near Santuario before we proceeded on foot to the embassy.  We tried entering the McKinley Road gate but we were told by the security guards that we can reach the embassy through the other Dasma Village gate behind the Santuario.

We dutifully walked to that other gate and explained our business to the security guards.  In the morning before proceeding to Makati City, I called the Egyptian Embassy and asked to talk to the Ambassador himself after identifying myself fully as UP professor.  I was referred to an unnamed female secretary who asked me if our only business was to deliver a letter.

I told her that it was our only intention and even asked for a 3:00 pm appointment with the embassy’s public affairs officer.

At this second gate, the security guards told us that the Egyptian embassy was not inside Dasma Village.

I insisted that it was, citing the phone call I had with the embassy secretary earlier.

Then I gave them the telephone number I used to call the embassy hours earlier.

They called the number (or so I thought) and came back to me that indeed, the embassy was not in Dasma.

I asked the one apparently in charge if the embassy was ever in Dasma and he was not sure.  What he sure of was that the embassy was not in Dasma.

In response to my question, he told me that the Egyptian embassy was located in a building in Salcedo Village, also in  Makati.  I tried calling the number of the embassy once more but this time nobody was answering the ringing phone.

Mubarak has already resigned.

We will revise our letter for the Egyptian people. We will congratulate them and wish them well.

However, we cannot deliver the letter unless we know the exact address of the Egyptian embassy in Makati City.

Can anybody help?


Jubilant Egyptians celebrating Mubarak's resignation (Getty Images)

Viva Egypt!

After 18 days of non-stop, non-violent protests, marches, and general strikes, former air force general and supreme leader of Egypt for the last 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, skedaddles to a Sinai peninsula resort town while his designated VP Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak has resigned as Egypt’s president.

The chairman of the Grand Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces also went on TV announcing that the military was in control and that it will oversee the transition process.  While he paid tribute and praised Mubarak for his services to the nation in times of war and peace, he gave a snappy military salute to the more than 300 Egyptians who died in the last 18 days.

Egyptians in Meydan Tharir predictably exploded in a paroxysm of jubilation.  As of this writing, the celebration continues in Egypt and in other parts of the world such as London where there would be a sizable number of Egyptians.  Arabs in Jordan and the Gaza strip also join the festivities.

While PM David Cameron of the United Kingdom was quite cautious in his congratulatory message, German PM Angela Merkel was more sanguine calling the Egyptian phenom a great triumph.

For his part, US President Barack Obama praised the Egyptian people but stressed that the Egyptian military, who is in de facto control of the country, has a key and important role in ensuring the ‘orderly’ transition to democracy.

What is paramount in Obama’s mind is that exit of Mubarak should not upset the quadrilateral US-Egypt-Israel-Jordan partnership that has kept the peace in the Middle East (aka known as the absence of an international war pitting Israel against Arab states).

The last Arab-Israeli conflict, known as the Yom Kippur War, was fought in October 1973.  Even if Israel won the war, it remained worried about its security as it was surrounded by hostile Arab states.

The US stepped in and convinced Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat and Israeli PM Menachem Began to start talking peace through the Camp David process.  In March 1979, a peace treaty was signed between the two states and this meant that for the first time, an Arab state recognized the right of the Israeli state to exist.

In 1994, a similar treaty was signed between Israel and Jordan.

In my opinion, none of these considerations animated the millions of Egyptians mobilized in the last 18 days.  What united them is a burning desire to get rid of Hosni Mubarak and frustrate the plan to install son Gamal as his successor.

And they succeeded.

There may be others who are not satisfied since the Egyptian military, a key prop of the Mubarak dictatorship, is still in control.

This fact should not blind us to the more important fact that an important victory has been achieved.

The victory of the Egyptian people will serve as the base, the launching pad of the future struggles for full democracy in Egypt.

In conclusion, I call on my readers to pay tribute and pray for Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian fruit vendor who started the Arab prairie fire for freedom from dictators.

Let’s us also pray and pay tribute to the more than 300 still-unnamed martyrs of the Egyptian revolution.

Let’s also praise the Egyptian military and urge them to continue listening to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

VIVA!


In December last year, a humiliated fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, burned himself and sparked what is now known as the Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia that sent long-entrenched dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, his family and cronies packing their bags and ill-gotten loot and skedaddling  to Saudi Arabia and to parts unknown after that.

And Tunisia proved to be the spark that lit the now raging prairie fire in the Arab world.  Yemen is boiling.  Jordan too. But the focus of our attention is Egypt where the thirty-year old Mubarak regime is desperately clinging to power amidst calls made gingerly by West European and US governments for the strongman to start an ‘orderly transition of power’ what ever that means.

In our neck of the woods, the intrepid Heidi Mendoza (no relations; how I wish I had) revealed in one parliamentary hearing yesterday she made a pledge with her fellow auditors that she will run naked in the streets of Manila if the Ombudsman (the special court that supposedly tries cases against corrupt and erring public officials) found the case she built against the plundering Gen. Carlos Garcia to be ‘weak’.

Heidi Mendoza at House hearing

An hour ago, the voluptuous and reportedly openly-bisexual Mocha (Margaux) Uson, model and lead singer of the eponymously-named all-female show band MOCHA GIRLS, tweeted:

Mocha Uson
MochaUson Mocha Uson
ATTN: Heidi Mendoza. You have my support. I vow to run naked with you in the street if Garcia’s case will be dismissed.

Mocha Girls

Mocha kissing her bandmate

All these ‘body movements’ from Tunisia to the Philippines recall the excellent paper presented by Dr. Vene Rallonza of the Ateneo de Manila University at last year’s annual meeting of the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) in Baguio City.
Vene was my student in an International Studies course that examined non-violent political struggles the world over during the 20th century.  While her classmates chose to make class presentations on such struggles as the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the march of the Sumilao farmers from Mindanao to Manila, and the protest of the Chinese youth in Tien-an-men Square in Beijing in 1989, Vene decided to focus attention on the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), that band of activists who would rather wear leaves or go naked rather than wear ‘glamorous’ fur.
Vene joined me in a panel on unconventional lifestyles and politics where I also presented a paper co-wrote with my son Arlo, who is into literary theory and a member of an indie rock band on the politics of the Jologs, the Philippine version of gangsta, punk, and grunge.
We had a standing-room only audience.

PETA's 'rather go naked than wear fur' campaign

Two months after, during World Cup 2010 in South Africa, the world was treated to threats that they will run naked in the streets of their native cities.
The cellphone-on-the-chest wielding Larissa Riquelme, who is rooting for Paraguay, promised to run naked in the streets of Asuncion if her national team wins the Cup..
Larissa Riquelme
Or the coach of Argentina, the Diego Maradona of ‘the hand of God’ (in)fame(y), who made the same promise.
I guess the guys in Buenos Aires, even if elated over an Argentinian victory will prefer Larissa to do her run instead of Diego.

Maradona the bull

One may dismiss Mocha’s tweet as a blatant attempt to capitalize and ride on Heidi Mendoza’s current popularity.  Be that as it may, she has an acute sense of the great political possibilities of the body.
Today’s Inquirer carries a full-page ad paid for by a certain Jose Mari Moraza who declared himself a “soldier of truth who is one” with Heidi Mendoza “in the fight for a corruption free Philippines”.
Moraza encouraged Heidi: “Sa gitna ng tukso, pangungurakot-Huwag kang manghina at manatiling nakatutok sa tunay na layunin” (Amidst temptation and corruption, don’t weaken and stay focused on the true objective).
Burning bodies. Toppled dictators.
Naked bodies. Running bodies.
World Cup trophies?
Nah!
Convicted plunderering generals?
Hopefully, yes!
What more can I say?

Medan Tahrir

As I write this blog entry, a pitched battle between pro- and anti-Mubarak forces is raging in Tahrir Square (aka Medan Tahrir or Midan Tahrir) in central Cairo and nearby surroundings, including the Museum of Antiquities.  It started yesterday afternoon as pro-Mubarak forces mounted on horses and camel charged into the ranks of anti-Mubarak demonstrators in the square wielding clubs, sticks, and swords.  A number of them were forced off their mounts and were beaten up by the incensed demonstrators.  As nightfall fell, the pro-regime forces started pelting the other side with stones, rocks, and petrol bombs.  And the other side also started returning the favor.

Mubarak supporters on a camel charging anti-Mubarak protesters

The positions of both sides solidified as the night deepened into the dawn and metal barricades separated the combatants.  The contest is now a flurry and counter-flurry of projectiles and Molotov cocktails.  The contested ground seems to be Tahrir itself but the pro-Mubarak forces are not in any way poised to take control over the precious real estate. Especially since the anti-regime forces still outnumber them.

The battle of Tahrir

Meanwhile, the security forces (police and military) are not doing anything to restore order and to stop the hostilities.  Perhaps, their superiors found it prudent to allow partisans on both sides to vent their emotions through the street action.  Perhaps, what they intend is to confine the disorder only within the square. Or better yet, their superiors may believe that sending them into the fray may divide the security forces themselves–leading to a more frightening scenario of street fighting between fire-armed forces.  Better to confine the weapons to stones and fire-bombs!

Present? Absent!

Battle of Tahrir II

Meanwhile, there’s a dire need for medical and emergency personnel to tend to the wounded running into hundreds!

The street fighting is also duplicated in Egypt’s second-largest city, Alexandria.

Street fighting in Cairo

All these developments ensued after a defiant speech by Mubarak on nation-wide television with the strongman declaring that while he will not stand for any position at the coming September 2011 elections, he declared that he intends to die on Egyptian soil.  That he was a soldier and that he will not abandon his post.

A few hours after that inflamed speech came the horse and camel charge of the pro-Mubarak forces.

Apparently, Mubarak is not yet ready to cut, and cut cleanly.  And the US government headed by President Obama is either undecided or unwilling to speed up the process.

So now, Egypt’s future will, rightfully, be decided by the war of attrition in Cairo, Alexandria, and elsewhere within the country.


It’s the Chinese Lunar New Year!

The year of the metal rabbit, to be precise.

As I write, I hear firecrackers and rockets exploding in the night sky over Diliman, Quezon City.

Thousands of miles and several time zones away,  the largely-peaceful anti-Mubarak demonstrators and media persons in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt are being terrorized by ‘security thugs’ and apprehensive pro-regime supporters on camels, horses brandishing clubs, swords, and other weapons.  The anti-regime protesters protected themselves by throwing back stones and rocks.  At the moment, the Tahrir Liberation Square is a literal ‘war zone’ with petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails raining from the roofs of surrounding buildings unto the anti-Mubarak protesters.

Reports from Al Jazeera correspondents in situ indicate that the army is trying “its level best” to interject soldiers and armored vehicles between the clashing groups as the number of injured increased by the minute.  Soldiers also reportedly used firetrucks and water cannons to douse fires in the square.

 

DailyNewsEgypt reports that several men in religious garb stand in between two sides in Tahrir trying to stop the violence.

 

 

Back home, at out neck of the woods, we are luxuriating at the bravery of Heidi Mendoza, the former Commission on Audit (COA) auditor who had earlier painstakingly investigated fraudulent disposition of public monies at the  Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and testified the day before yesterday at the Senate.

Mendoza and the anti-Egyptian demonstrators (who have been protesting since January 25) and the Tunisian people are beacons of hope for decent and freedom-loving people the world over.

The sword-wielding thugs on horseback are a source of worry.  But worse, the intransigence of Mubarak suggests the possibility of a Tien-an-men style crackdown.  Mubarak maintained his tough stance amid denunciations of the violence by UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon and even as Western governments, including Washington, called for an immediate transition of power.

We hope that the current impasse in Cairo will be resolved without further violence and bloodshed.

Obviously, something has got to give sooner or later.

The anti-Mubarak opposition will up the ante this coming Friday declaring it the “Mubarak will depart” day.

Meanwhile, the Grand Mufti of Cairo called on the anti-Mubarak protesters in Tahrir to go home as it is haram (forbidden) to defy authority.

It remains to be seen if petrol bombs and the Grand Mufti’s words will be enough to give a longer lease of life to the Mubarak regime.

Every new year ushers hope and good cheer.  Every courageous act of fellow human beings anywhere in the world inspires others about the possibility of a better world.

Every act of violence of any human being against another diminishes us all.