Wednesday, February 23, 2011

North Africa Protests - How You Can Help

"The Mad Dog of the Middle East" according to Reagan.
Although the following suggestions are aimed at the ongoing genocide in Libya, they can of course be used for all causes:

1. The UN
 Contact the UN and remind them of the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). Paragraph 139 in 2005 World Summit Outcome Document states that:

The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

Since the Libyan government has undoubtly failed to protect it's own citizens, the responsibility falls to the international community to step in. Remind the UN of this and demand them to intervene:

2. Your own government
Contact your Department of Foreign Affairs and ask them to put more pressure on international organs to intervene and to demand the removal of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi:

3. The White House
Pressure one of the most powerful governments in the world to ask Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to step down and help the people of Libya towards fair elections and democracy. Contact the While House here. 

4. Libyan State TV
Express your opinions of their one-sided news and demand from them to show the truth and stop supporting the Colonel. You can contact the Libyan Jamahiriya Broadcasting Corporation (LJBC) here:
  • In Arabic:
  • In English: 
  • In French: 
  •  Telephone: +218 21 3402107 or +218 21 3403468

5. International Humanitarian Organizations
Demand from Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's) around the world to monitor the situation in Libya and assist the people with medical equipment and staff, food and other essential items. I've listed contact information for a few of the most influential organizations below:

EDIT: Also sign Amnesty International's petition for Obama/Rice and the UN to take action in Libya here. Together we can stop this!

    North Africa Protests - Twitter

    All those who are courageously fighting evil regimes, follow me on Twitter and I'll retweet your important messages in English and Swedish: @bloodyredsaga

    Stay strong and please remember that the people throughout the world is with you and that we're doing our very best to change the passivity and cowardice of our governments as well as international organs with the power to intervene.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    Egypt Protests - Staying Safe, How to Outmaneuver the Police and Other Useful Advices

    Outmaneuvering the police:

    [...]The best defense is chaos. If situations change constantly the police cannot keep up. Keep moving. Change your appearance. Open new directions  and  possibilities. Be unpredictable.

    Watch out for provocateurs including but not limited to “peace police”. These self appointed enforcers of “peace” infiltrate demonstrations and try to prevent people from walking in the street or engaging in many forms of protest. They sometimes wear armbands (usually white) and will report people to the police or attempt to apprehend  them personally. Also watch out for individuals trying to  instigate violence against obvious non-targets. These people are often police or employed by them to discredit us.

    This advice, among many others can be found on Daily Kos: Guide to Safety and Victory in Street Confrontations UPDATE, and have been "compiled and edited by Anonymous-affiliated veterans of prior revolutions and other occasions on which civilians have successfully fought security forces." I recommend it to anyone directly or indirectly involved in the uprisings spreading throughout the world.

    Thursday, February 17, 2011

    Egypt Protests - How Love Conquers All

    Broken arms and in a bad condition, but with good spirits.

    There are plenty of revolutions described in the history book and I'll be the first to admit that I have little knowledge of the details surrounding most of them. What I do know however, is how the Egyptians in 18 days managed to end a 30+ year old dictatorship. It wasn't done through assassination or bombs, terrorism or unnecessary violence. No, the Egyptians did what the world thought was impossible. Through their unending love for their country and for eachother, they attracted millions of people from all social classes out in the streets. 

    Few people have missed that the heart of the Egyptian revolution is in Tahrir (Liberation) Square. In this spot in central Cairo the people settled down, building shelters and created voluntary civilian work forces to keep the occupied Tahrir in order. Human chains were created to block the tanks from moving in to the square, schools and kindergardens were set up as well as makeshift hospitals and lost-and-found-stations. To enter the square you had to walk through several security checks; these too were run by civilians. Everyone got body searched and any sharp or other potentially dangerous objects were confiscated. After each check point, you were met with apologizes that they had to search you. I apologized too, for the people to be forced into this situation. The pro-democracy protesters were welcoming and protecting the few foreigners that had chosen to stay in the country (most of them journalists of course). A sign held up by a young man said "Tourists! Please don't leve, we'll protect you!" Women and men came to thank me for not leaving, saying that it was because of international media that they were somewhat safe from the authorities. The day after Mubarak resigned, the people returned to Tahrir. This time armed with brooms and plastic bags to clean up the square.

    Of course an experience like this leaves you with tons of impressions that needs to be sorted and worked on. I learned so much that it's impossible to put it all into words, but one single thing changed me forever: the amazing solidarity that rose to the surface of all the Egyptians out in the streets is nothing less than a miracle. It's safe to say that no matter of all the horrible things that happened during the protests, it brought out the very very best in the people. Since the protests begun I haven't experienced any hassle and haven't heard of any sexual harrassement coming from the pro-democracy protesters. When the police and thugs started the attacks on the protesters, the people defended themselves, but they did it with a smile. I have no doubt what so ever that what kept the protesters going, through the violence and harsh conditions, is the humour and good spirits among them. Those that couldn't directly join the protests, kept the people up by songs and dancing. They may have been beaten and humiliated, even killed, but they never lost hope.

    Whenever I think of the bread that was shared in Tahrir Square, of children sitting on their parents' shoulders chanting pro-democracy verses with smiles on their faces, of the human chains protecting the museum from looters and of the wounded getting plastered up with simple means, my eyes are filled with tears. And I really mean it, the incredible love and respect I've witnessed during these past few weeks truly makes me cry. It proves once and for all that the goodness of mankind beats the evil fews by far. Forget about guns and violence; with love in your heart you can accomplish anything.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Egypt Protests - A Few Days After

    Got a text from Egyptian Armed Forces early this morning saying:

    Asking honorable citizens to put all their efforts together to have a safe country.

    It's wierd how many things you get can get used to in just a couple of weeks; hiding from the bad guys, body searches, questioned, texts from the army, you name it. Last night I dreamt that I was detained by under cover police. They blind folded me and I got my hands back-tied . Then they started to question me, laughing at me and trying to make me admit to something, like being a spy. And the wierd thing is that in another lifetime, in my safe haven in Sweden, a dream like that would be surreal, like something taken from a movie. But for the post-revolution me, there was nothing surreal about that dream. It could have happened, still can I imagine.

    I'm in Hurghada, after having spent the two first weeks of the protests in central Cairo. Now, every time a car back fires or someone's shouting in the street I automatically flinch and think it's gunfire or an angry mob coming this way. Reports of high numbers of journalists that have been assaulted during the protests are surely scary and very very sad. Not that I'm a journalist, but I knew all along that if the (former) authorities would find out that I'm blogging about the events and talk to international media about it, I could be in big trouble. Not having a respected organization holding your back was somewhat risky (although having one was proved to not do much good either) and I found myself being less and less "courageous" towards the end; careful of who I was talking to and hiding the camera when possible.

    On February 25th, the people in Hurghada will gather for a memorial of the hundereds of people that died during the protests. I still don't have news of what exactilly is planned, but I'm looking forward to publish the thoughts and feelings of the Egyptians that only got to witness the revolution from afar. The numbness that I first noticed (with horror, I must say) among the people in Hurghada concerning what was happening in the capital and all around Egypt is now mostly gone. After Mubarak's last speach to the nation, where he once and of all proved to be an old dillusional fart that had no clue what so ever what was happening in the country he was supposed to lead, the people in Hurghada stood up and clapped their hands. They said that what Mubarak said was good and that the people will settle for this. When they saw on TV that the people in Tahrir was leaving the square, they were sure that they were simply happy now and were going home. The day after, a few hours after the VP announced the president's resignation, the over all atmosphere changed into celebration. What they hadn't dared (or cared) to say before, could now be heard throughout the night in a happy celebratory street party with loud music, dancing, tears and fire shows.

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Egypt Protests - VICTORY!

    Mark my words readers; on February 11th 2011, Egypt changed the world. Through persistent peaceful demonstrations filled with love and respect for eachother and spiced with a good amount of humour, the brave Egyptians managed to throw the president Hosni Mubarak out. The joy I feel for the people of Egypt and for every other person living under an oppressive regime is impossible to describe. The first minutes after VP Suleiman made the announcement that Mubarak is stepping down I was in chock and had to ask Khalid some 10-20 times if it's really true. I though that maybe it was another lie to calm the people down. I though that maybe they heard wrong. But no. As from today, the 30+ year long dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak has come to an end and it wasn't through violence or assassination (even though the people surely could have taken that path too) but through non-violence and love for eachother. I'm amazed.

    It makes me incredibly proud of having witnessed this fantastic transformation of Egypt. Thank you Egyptians, for giving the world hope and trust that the people will always be the ones in power if they choose to. Miracles can be made by human hands and one individual truly can make a huge difference.

    I'm pretty speachless, so I'll leave you to follow the celebrations on TV and will write some more when the emotions have started to settle. Many books will be written about this people and these two and a half weeks of protests is certainly the biggest historical moment in modern Arab history. Alf mabroook ya Masr! May fate continue to smile upon you!

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Egypt Protests - When the Tourists Left

     We arrived in Hurghada yesterday, Khalid and me. We left Cairo as hundereds of thousands of protesters once again gathered in Tahrir Square. It felt like I was betraying them, the people, like I should be there to show my support or to just report from the spot. But it was time to go. Regardless of what the authorities say, it's not 100% safe to walk in the streets of Cairo as a foreginer. Towards the end of my Cairo stay, I found myself on edge, constantly worried about talking to the wrong person, of someone with distorted mind seeing me taking a photo, of my phone or internet activity to be monitored. Sooner or later, a revolution demands a prize and no matter how sad it made me I felt that I really should leave the capital. So on the bus we went and six hours later we were in Hurghada, empty of the tourists that had nourished the city so far.

    Last night I was twitching in shivers and fever and when I woke up I was greeted with a SMS from the Ministry of Interior through Etisalat saying:

    From today our dealings with you will be with honesty, trust and lawfulness.

    I wonder if words will be enough to satisfy the mourning souls of those who lost their children, sisters, brothers and loved ones through the police brutality. I doubt it. It's too late for their redemption and I think that the only thing that will ever make their deaths worthwile is for Mubarak to step down. And if he continue to insists that he has to stay (for the sake of keeping the stability?) until the election in September, I really hope that the military will show some backbone and follow the will of the people.

    Meanwhile, in Hurghada, the protests have been mainly absent but the result of the ongoing demonstrations elsewhere are affecting this city more than it does in Cairo or Alexandria. Hurghada is depending on the tourists. The majority of the restaurants, shops and businesses here are focusing on tourism, and without them there simply won't be any more money coming in. Shop owners close their businesses and put signs in the display window either saying that they'll stay closed until the tourists come back, or urging the foreigners that are still here to stay, saying that Egypt is safe. Who knows what will happen to places like Hurghada and Sharm al-Sheikh if the tourists won't start to come back soon.

    As a side note; did you know that the president of the Egyptian Red Crescent is her excellency Mrs. Mubarak, i.e. Hosni Mubarak's wife? Apparently the ICRC have been hindered to help out the protesters in Tahrir but now it says in a report on the ERC webpage that there are first aid activities in Tahrir. I haven't seen them there for two weeks but if it's true that they now have access to the square, then that's all good.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Cairo Protests - Monday 7th

    Witnessing a revolution from the front stalls has a prize, I've realized that now. I've been so swallowed up by all these dramatic events that I basically forgot that I'm more than a witness. I've seen people been beaten, mobs attacking, blood, tanks, injustice and mourning. I've felt the tear gas burn in my eyes and throat. I've been laying awake at night listening to guns being fired, explosions, helicopters and fighter jets. I've spoken to people that lost a loved one, a mother who's 22 year old daughter's head exploded by a bullet. I've ran away from violent clashes and shootings, been questioned and frightened. There are so many impressions in my head and I haven't had the slightest chance to even start to process them. They're piling up on me, lays heavy on my shoulders and it's time to be selfish and take a break from all of it, if only to gather my strengths to come back with renewed energy.

    I wanted to go to Tahrir Square one last time. The atmosphere was calm, almost tranquil, but sadness and mourning was hovering above the people. The faces of the people that lost their lives there in these past two weeks were printed on banners and placards. The mother of the young woman who died last Friday was trying to get her message through on stage, but it was difficult through her tears. I wanted to hug her; tell her that her daughter didn't die for nothing. But the outcome of the violent protests are still in the hands of a force majeur. Although the protesters show no sign of retreating from their own little city state called Tahrir, this can end in a multiple different ways. 

    Outside of the square, people are doing their best to get back to the every day life in Cairo. Shops and business re-open and smashed windows are being replaced while looted shops are still gaping empty. My heart is heavy with the thought of leaving the courageous souls in Tahrir behind, but I've realized that there isn't much more that I can do for the time being. I can continue to report, but I too need to get my life back. I'm way behind in my studies and I really hope it won't be too late to catch up. Maybe with a little peace in my mind I can get back on track, get my strenghts back and return to Cairo if I'm needed. I still haven't heard from the Egyptian Red Crescent. It doesn't seem like they will have a first aid group with access to Tahrir, but if there will be one, I'll be back on the first bus available.

    We're going to the ghost town of Hurghada; once a thriving tourist city, now eerily empty as all tourists have been flown out. All except me that is.

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Cairo Protests - Saturday 5th

    I dressed my grazed feet and once again headed towards Tahrir Square. This time we knew which street to take to avoid the Mubarak supporters and possible hostile situations. A few ID-checks and body searches (and many apologizes from the civilian security volunteers) later we were on pro-democratic occupied ground in central Cairo. Loud music was played through speakers, people were chanting and cheering and the over all atmosphere was very peaceful and cool.

    In the middle of the square, in a round plot of dirty grass, the protesters have set up their camp of simple provisional shelters composed of poles, plastic and blankets. Although a light rain had been trickeling over Cairo the whole day and it was starting to get cold, the protesters were showing no sign of leaving. Injured people with dirty bandages, plaster and dressings were resting on the ground while thousands of people were treadding the ground around them. Stalls of free water and snacks were set up and people shared what they had with eachother. It's quite amazing to witness the incredible solidarity and high spirits among the protesters, many of which haven't left the square in many days.

    One woman came up to me while I was taking some photos of the crowd, took my hand and gave me the most brilliant smile and thanked me from the bottom of her heart for being a foreigner and not leaving Egypt. Another man told me that thanks to the foreigners that are still in Cairo, reporting what's going on, they are saved from the police. If it wasn't for us, he said, they would basically be screwed. I have no say in that, but I experienced some very emotional situations today. The thought of that first woman who took my hand makes my eyes water. In response I told her that of course we're staying, the world needs to see what's going on here.

    In one place of the square, civilians had put up a table with lost items like mobile phones and wallets. How amazing is that? The solidarity and warmth among the people refusing to leave the square as long as Mubarak is president is nothing less than incredible. I so wish that I could do more, but my words and pictures will have to do for now.

    When we were about to leave, a man by the barbed wire barricade asked us with a smile to stay. Others simply said "Thanks for coming! Please come again!" And I sure will.

    Cairo Protests - More Photos

    My second set of photos taken in the past few days (beginning of February 2011).

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Revolution = Ego Boost?

    Sveriges Radio's nation wide news program (Ekot) called for another interview today, February 4th.

    To listen: 

    To read:


    Sveriges Radio Sjuhärad (SR P4 Sjuhärad) called for an interview on January 30th.


    We met Göteborgsposten (GP) in Cairo for an interview on January 31st.  This is an extract from a longer article about the protests.


    Short interview published in Borås Tidning (BT) on February 3rd.

    Cairo Protests - 8 PM Friday 4th

    I can't even begin to express my frustration right now. We tried a different road leading to Tahrir Square a couple of hours ago, this one controlled by pro-democracy protesters. I explained that I was a first aid/CPR instructor for the Swedish Red Cross and that I would like to offer my assistance to the field medics in the square. I was warmly welcomed by the civilians and had two "bodyguards" escorting me through 7-8 security checks where I had to show my passport, get body searched and explain what I was doing there.

    Finally we arrived in the heart of chaos, where darkness had settled over Tahrir and tens of thousands of protesters had gathered to let president Mubarak know that his time is over. A make shift hospital was put up next to two military tanks. A couple of doctors and nurses was stationed there, taking care of the wounded. The doctor I spoke to explained that they're deeply sorry that they can't accept my assistance, simply because I'm a foreigner. From the bottom of their hearts they apologized for the situation and said that they would more than gladly use my skills, but that it would be too risky. Some are apparently accusing the international community for much of the violence happening in the streets. They claim that it's the international media's fault, and therefore it would be too dangerous for me to help out. That I'm with the non-governmental, non-political organisation Red Cross doesn't matter. They explained that the government doesn't care who I'm with. It would be too risky.

    I'm so sad and upset right now. When I got there, there weren't that many wounded in the sick bay, but I'm sure there will be a lot more as time passes by this Friday night. It feels so wrong to not be able to help when I'm qualified for it. I'm trained for this. I didn't come there to express my discontent with the government or give my opinion about anything that has to do with politics. I didn't go there to take sides. All I wanted was to treat the wounded as best as I could. All I could do today was to give the medics the few first aid supplies I had in my bag; some cotton, bandages, dressings and antibiotic cream.

    I dearly hope that the ICRC will be allowed into Tahrir tomorrow if the protests continue, which I have a feeling they will. I also hope that I'll be able to join them as a first aider. Let's hope that the brave medics won't be overburdened tonight and that the few medical supplies will be enough to treat the injured.

    Cairo Protests - 5 PM Friday 4th

    11th day of protests: Out in the streets people are catching up on the latest events, exchanging war stories. I made a couple of attempts to enter the Tahrir area, but was impossible. My hopes was to find one of the make shift hospitals and offer my assistance. When I'm not studying I'm working as a First Aid/CPR instructor for the Swedish Red Cross. It's more than frustrating to not be able to help when I'm qualified for it. The ICRC and ERC have been stopped from entering Tahrir and medical supplies and other essentials like food and water are being confiscated by Mubarak supporters. Some streets are completely controlled by either pro-Mubarak or pro-democracy protesters; a picture resembling that of a country in civil war. The destruction of central Cairo is massive.

    Dark clouds are moving in on the city, like a bad omen predicting more chaos to come. Cairo today is like a rubber band stretched to a maximum, ready to snap at any moment. The pro-democracy protesters are calling this day "Departure Day", hinting at the deadline for Mubarak to step down. Exactily what that means is still unclear. Some are talking about marching towards the presidential palace, others are talking about the violent erruption of the human volcano in Tahrir Square.

    The military is to some degree stopping pro-Mubarak protesters to enter the square, but it's more than likely that many of them have managed to get past the security check points.

    I see people with crutches, plasters and bandages everywhere to show the extent of the violence used from all sides during these past 11 days of protests. In my bag I have a basic first aid kit, just in case.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Cairo Protests - The People

    Here are some of the voices of the people I've met during the Cairo pro-democratic protests, January-February 2011.

    Cairo Protests - Thursday 3rd

    9th day of protests: I think that by putting all my focus on reporting the escalating situation in central Cairo, I have neglected my own health. My camera has followed me everywhere, I've made interviews, talking to people, trying to get a better sense of what's happening. Sleep hasn't been a priority and I haven't eaten properly in over a week. At night I lay awake, listening to gunfires and shouts, wondering how many people get killed this very minute. Last night I clinged to the Al Jazeera live pictures until dawn, defying a growing headache and fatigue.

    So today I woke up with migraine and my stomach was in revolt. My beloved went hunting for a pharmacy and got me painkillers which helped me fall back into sleep for another couple of hours. 

    Swedish Radio called this morning again and asked a few questions, but I barely remember it. A few hours later I got an email from a Swedish local paper, requesting yet another interview. In this morning's Borås Tidning there was a short article about me being here too. It's wierd to have the media contacting me for interviews and comments and even wierder when friends and family sees it. The first interview was fun, the second too. But now I just do it out of duty. People need to know what's going on in Cairo. Last night's clashes between pro-democratic and pro-Mubarak protesters resulted in at least 8 dead people and over 1000 injured, just minutes away from where we live. So you can imagine that it doesn't feel right to go to sleep at night when people are dying around us.

    I'll give you a more detailed update about today's happenings later on.

    DN, Aftonbladet, SvD, Expressen, GP

    Cairo Protests - Wednesday 2nd

    8th day of demonstrations: It seems impossible that the situation has changed from being something like a carnival into a civil war in less than 24 hours. The pro-democray protesters have been peaceful and only defended themselves against the violent police. They have taken care of each other; shared bread and medical supplies, guarding homes and businesses, made human chains to protect the treasurous Egyptian museum as well as civilians in vulnerable areas. They have shared advices of how to best deal with the tear gas and rubber bullets. They've been singing and chanting. That is, until pro-Mubarak protesters charged Tahrir Square today.

    It's unclear where they came from, but they did bring violence with them. Climbing buildings, they've thrown stones and molotov cocktails at the pro-democray protesters and charged them with horses and camels (!), equipped with whips. As for now, the square is filled with smoke from burning tires and trees and the pro-democray protesters are doing well to keep the others away from Tahrir. The rumour says that people have been paid to join the protests and that governmental ID-cards have been found on many of the pro-Mubarak protesters. It's said that they're either paid by the government to fight off the protesters or to make chaos, or are undercover police. The latest rumours on Twitter says that vehicles without licence plates are heading towards the square, filled with dogs. People are fearing a pre-dawn or early morning massacre. And the military are just observing.

    It's unclear how many have been killed so far. A couple of hours ago the official number was three and that some 650 people have been injured. The city is running out of medical supplies, which is reportedly being stopped from entering Tahrir Square by pro-Mubarak protesters.

    For the first time since the protests begun, I have stayed indoors with an exception for a short walk during the late hours around the block. I had planned to have a look at what's happening around Tahrir, but was stopped 100 metres from the apartment by a civilian identity check. Of course I had forgotten my passport at home, so we went back to get it and decided to not try to attempt the more central parts this evening. I had hoped to be able to take a few pictures, but apparently journalists and photographers are again being targeted by pro-Mubarak protesters. Several have been beaten and gotten their equipments confiscated or destroyed. That won't stop me from using my words to reach out though.

    The situation doesn't seem to get any better as time goes by and we've decided to attempt to leave Cairo on or around Saturday. But it will be difficult as most buses and trains have been cancelled or are fully booked. In worst case we'll have a friend drive us to some town down south, where we can catch a bus or train. Cairo isn't safe and I mourn for the people who have lost their loved ones in the battle for freedom and democracy. I wish they'll keep their strength and courage to bring this bloodthirsty and power craving dictator down once and for all. Don't let the deaths be for nothing.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Cairo Protests - Photos

    Here's a compilation of my photos during these past 9 days of anti-government protests in central Cairo, Egypt. More to come as the story unfolds.

    Cairo Protests - Tuesday 25th

    Here's a short compilation of videos presenting how the anti-government protests started in central Cairo last Tuesday, January 25th 2011.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Cairo Protests - Tuesday 1st

    February 1st 2011: The ”Million Man March” drew (in my estimation) between 100-200.000 protesters to Tahrir Square in central Cairo. Except for enormous crowds and difficulties to move around, I didn't witness any violence or potential violent situations. Quite the opposite what most people had expected, the atmosphere felt more like that of a carnival than an anti-government protest. People were gathering in groups, singing and cheering. Women were handing out cookies, bread was provided, Egyptian flags were waved everywhere. People brought their young children to the square. On our way in to the square we went through two civilian security checks, where our bags and pockets were searched for weapons.

    Simply put, everyone was happy. That is until late in the evening, when Mubarak announced that he will not run for the next election in September, but doesn't intend to leave his post until then. For most of the protesters, this isn't enough. They want him gone now, not in 8 months. Others are settling with the announcement and says that since they have lived with his rule for 30+ years, they can do it for another few months if only that means that order will be restored and that the next election will be democratic.

    We weren't present in the square when the announcement was made, but we've learned through TV that dissatisfied shouts are echoing throughout the city. It remains to be seen what tomorrow will bring.