A joyous night in Cairo on February 11. What bliss to be alive, to be an Egyptian and an Arab. In Tahrir Square, they chanted: “Egypt is free” and “We won!” The removal of Mubarak alone (and getting the bulk of his US$40 billion loot back for the national treasury), without any other reforms, would itself be experienced in the region and in Egypt as a huge political triumph. It will set new forces into motion. A nation that has witnessed miracles of mass mobilisations and a huge rise in popular political consciousness will not be easy to crush, as Tunisia demonstrates.
The attempt by Hosni Mubarak’s regime to stop anti-government protests by shutting down the internet and mobile phone services failed to stop the popular uprising that forced the dictator out on February 11. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Egypt on January 25 demanding political reform and an end to police brutality. When 24 hours passed and they hadn’t dispersed, Mubarak shut down access to media and telecommunications.
US investigators have admitted their efforts to find grounds on which to prosecute WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange over the whistleblowing website’s release of hundreds of thousands of classified US documents were in trouble. They have been forced to concede they have been unable to find evidence that Assange encouraged theft of secret documents, the Wall Street Journal said on February 9. The admission came as Assange faced an extradition hearing in London on February 7, 8 and 11 over allegations of sexual assault in Sweden. More coverage:
WikiLeaks has released secret US diplomatic cables that show secret Australian government negotiations to sell uranium to India, despite it not being a signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Other cables show the government covered up details about its spy satellite program with the US. A leaked cable shows resources minister Martin Ferguson told US officials in 2009 that a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached within years, SMH.com.au said on February 10.
Two articles are posted below on the historic toppling of United States-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak in Egypt — and on the continuing struggle of the Egyptian people for economic, social and political change. For more coverage, see Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal * * * `We will take five minutes and celebrate, then start building our new Egypt!’ By Jane Slaughter February 12 — Labor Notes
“We will not be silenced,” shouts an Egyptian protester in one of the many videos posted on YouTube of the uprising against the Hosni Mubarak dictatorship that began on January 25. “Whether you are a Muslim, whether you are a Christian or whether you are an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights! And we will have our rights, one way or another, we will never be silenced!” This statement sums up the immense change sweeping Egypt. This change is driven by a powerful mass movement that put millions of people on the streets across Egypt on February 4.
The Sydney Peace Foundation awarded its “gold medal for peace with justice” to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange on February 2 in recognition of his “exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights”. This award is different from the foundation’s annual Sydney Peace Prize. The foundation has awarded the gold medal on only three previous occasions: the Dalai Lama in 1998; Nelson Mandela in 2000 and Japanese lay Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda in 2009.
As momentous events in Egypt demonstrate, much of the world is calling to account an “old order”. These are exciting times for the possibilities of real change in the way our societies are run. One of the catalysts of the “people power” we see on our TV screens is the extraordinary disclosure of secret information that tells us how wars begin and governments manipulate and deceive in our name. In the tradition of courageous investigative journalism, WikiLeaks has blown the whistles that alert us to these injustices and lies, serving a basic democratic need.
Seven climate activists who temporarily shut down coal loaders at Newcastle harbour in a September protest will wait another month to find out if they owe Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) $525,000 in “compensation”. The activists appeared in Newcastle Local Court for two days of hearings on January 31 and February 3. They were convicted of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs.