January 31, 2011
The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan expressed its support for the people of Egypt in their struggle to oust the dictator Hosni Mubarak. Protests have engulfed the Middle Eastern country for 7 days now as tens of thousands demanded the resignation of Egypt’s ruler. The 82-year old Mubarak has been in power for since 1981 and is considered a staunch US ally in the region.
“The people of Egypt are justified in their demands for the dictator Mubarak to step down amid the worsening state of the economy and human rights in the country. The people of Egypt should be free to determine who their next leader will be. Having fought a similar US-backed dictatorship, we Filipinos express our solidarity and support for our brothers and sisters in Egypt. We stand in solidarity with them during these tumultuous times,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
“We also express concern for the safety of our compatriots who are working in Egypt. The safety of the OFW’s can best be assured if the current conflict ends with Mubarak stepping down,” he added.
Bayan blamed the US government for “fomenting turmoil in the region by supporting authoritarian rulers who serve as US enforcers”.
“Why was Mubarak able to hold on to power for 30 years? A huge factor is US support for his repressive regime. The US government gives Egypt some P1.3 billion in military aid yearly, the second largest in the world next to Israel. Egypt gets an additional $815 million annually in economic assistance as well,” Reyes said.
“The US has trained Egypt’s security forces and has turned a blind eye to various human rights violations including torture. The US has maintained the high level of military aid to Egypt despite knowing that various human rights violations were being committed by state security forces,” Reyes added.
The recent figures on US aid to Egypt are available on the website of the US State Department. Meanwhile, leaked US embassy cables show that the US government knew of the torture and other abuses committed by Egypt’s police force under Mubarak.
Egypt is considered by the US as a “stabilizing force” in Middle East. It has often been described as the closest “Arab ally” of the US. It has toed the US line on key issues such as the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Egypt is also important for the US policy of containing so-called “Islamic extremists” in the region.
Egypt also controls the Suez Canel, which is a major trade route between Asia and Africa.
“Bayan chapters all over the world are called on to join solidarity actions in support of the Egyptian people’s just struggle for freedom and democracy and an end to the authoritarian rule of Mubarak. Having gone through 20 years of the Marcos dictatorship, we know too well how it feels to have our rights violated with impunity. Having gone through 2 ‘people power’ uprisings, we understand clearly why collective action is needed to succeed,” Reyes said.