State Security Police, Mukhabarat and the working class

A message from a reader:

During one of my recent daily visits to one of the Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) garment factories in Shobra El Kheima known as Misr Taiwan, I was astonished at the close relationship between the factory’s upper management and Amn El Dawla (State Security Police). I saw a person visiting there daily and overheard that he was getting the “daily report.”

When I asked the executive assistant what does “the daily report” mean and who was he? I heard what I didn’t want to hear.

He explained that those daily reports are between Amn El Dawla and the management of the factory on “workers behavior” especially pertaining wages and “behavior of the workers in organizing against the status quo or causing any political or non-political unrest.”

I was told by him that this officer of Amn EL Dawla named Mounir, was seen as a “friend” who visits on a daily basis and even given some clothes at times to keep tight connection with Dakhlia just in case any “problems” arise.

I was curious to know how deep or intrinsic was this relationship between Amn El Dawla and factory owners, so I asked if Amn El Dawla had helped before in diffusing any planned strikes or workers demands in order to keep “the peace.”

He told me that many times some checks were still clearing at the banks, so Amn El Dawla would intervene to speed up the process for them in order for the workers to get paid on time in fear of a strike.

Also another example was when the management itself would use Amn EL Dawla as their “arm or stick” to just scare the worker if the worker is “misbehaving” or causing “trouble” whether politically or attempting to shake-up the status quo.

There are usually gifts given to high officers in hopes of gaining a powerful ally and greeting cards during holiday given to company owners in return. The relationship seemed to be based on mutual interests; factory exploits the workers, and Amn EL Dawla makes sure that the workers are repressed while being exploited, which sadly only benefits them both on behalf of the workers.

On the same day that this took place, one of the factory’s share holders received a call from Al Amn EL Qawmi (National Security Agency, or Mukhabrrat) asking if there was any “unrest, or changes in workers’ behavior regarding the recent events that took place after the Tunisian uprising,” and the owner was laughing and saying that “all is well here, we have it all under control, workers are fine, paid on time, business as usual, but if there are any problems, we will contact you.”

I was in the room when this happened, so as soon as he hung up, and I knew what was the call all about. I asked, “Does this happen regularly?” The shareholder replied “it is rarely when Al Amn El Qawmi that calls, usually it is just Mounir here or calls from Amn El Dawla, this is unusual.”

I was thinking of course, they are scared shitless of any workers up-rise because they know the end is near, and it will be where power lays, with the masses, the workers!

A chat with a diver

A diver in his 20s in Marsa Alam: I hear you are a communist. What is communism? My father, may God bless his soul, whenever we got into a fight, used to shout “Yalla ya ibn el-kalb ya shoyou’i! (Go away, you communist son of a dog!)”

Me: In your case, communism means that you and other divers will get to run the diving center, vote on all decisions related to your workplace, without a boss who owns but doesn’t work.

Diver: That doesn’t sound bad.

Me: Moreover, you’ll get free medical insurance and decent housing. And if you have kids, their education will be for free. And those police check points on the road, that keep stopping and searching you as if you were in the West Bank, will disappear.

Diver: Sounds really great! So why did my father use “communist” as an insult?

Me: What did your father do for a living?

Diver: He was Mukhabarat.

Egyptian security interrogate Gazans in hospitals

Al-Jazeera Net is reporting that Egyptian security agents have interrogated injured Palestinians who were receiving their treatment in Egyptian hospitals, trying to extract information on Hamas, its leaders, and rocket launchers.

One Palestinian said his interrogator was “nice” until the former denied any knowledge of the resistance. That’s when the interrogator hit him where he’s wounded, saying “Don’t lie. You are in Hamas and the Qassam Brigades. If you don’t speak, we won’t allow you to continue your treatment and you’ll be thrown out like a dog.”

State Security Prosecutor summons Ghazl el-Mahalla labor leaders for interrogation

I spoke with Kareem el-Beheiri around three and half hours ago, and he assured me the morale is extremely high among the strikers. Thousands of them were sleeping over in the factory. Kareem was then rushing to upload the videos and the pix of the strike.

He also said Mubarak’s Central Security Forces troops are still unseen around the factory since their retreat on Saturday night after it became clear the strike was to proceed on the following morning. However, Kareem said the place is swarmed with plainclothes State Security Police agents, as well as agents from the Mukhabarat… Yep, in case you didn’t know Mahalla has an office for the Mukhabarat (the agency which is entitled with foreign security issues) since it’s considered a “strategic city” since the days of Nasser. These Mukhabarat agents show up when there are strikes or signs of discontent. It goes to show the power and strength of Mahalla, and the fear it constitutes to the Egyptian ruling class.

Kareem also said he was verbally threatened by a State Security agent, after he shouted against the government and the president.

I also spoke with Muhammad el-Attar and el-Sayyed Habib after I hung up with Kareem. Both have virtually lost their voices from exhaustion and from chanting in the marches. Both are keen on seeing international solidarity coming on their behalf, and are personally requesting in the name of the 27,000 Ghazl el-Mahalla workers that international labor organizations and unions express an urgently needed solidarity.

More worryingly, Attar told me he’d been summoned to the State Security Prosecutor’s office, together with Faisal Laqousha, and two other labor activists (I could hardly hear the names, as Attar’s voice was weak and I was standing by the train station where there was so much noise). Attar doesn’t know the charges yet to be leveled against him and his comrades.

I’m calling once again on labor activists around the world to issue statements of solidarity. The security crackdown on the strikers may well be underway.

Down with Mubarak’s Police… Victory to the Mahalla Strikers…