I’ve received news from the strikers’ camp in downtown Cairo:
Negotiations took place yesterday between the Finance Minister and State Security officers on one side and the strike leaders on the other… A partial agreement has been reached. I still need to confirm the details, but roughly here are the highlights:
1-Two month salary will be paid to the 55,000 strikers before Eid.
2-The Minister will meet with the strikers on 23 or 24 December to finalize a decree granting the Real Estate Tax Collectors the same bonuses and incentives as those received by their colleagues at the Ministry of Finance.
3-No striker will be victimized.
4-The camp set up by the strikers in front of the Ministerial Cabinet in downtown will be disbanded today temporarily for two weeks, and the solidarity demonstrations will be called off. However, the strike will continue until the above mentioned ministerial decree is issued.
UPDATE: Nora has some details in Arabic here.
UPDATE: It’s 12:30pm now, and the downtown sit-in is suspended by the strikers who folded their tents, carried their bags, exchanged hugs and kisses, chanted for hours confident about victory, and are now mounting buses back to the provinces. A group of the strike leaders, I was told, are meeting with the Finance Minister again today for further negotiations. Police troops had stepped up their presence since the morning. Agents from Qasr el-Nil Police Station, as well as State Security’s Counter-Communism Bureau, were spotted around the parliament and in el-Qasr el-Eini St.
UPDATE: It’s confirmed the strike is continuing in Cairo and the provinces, despite the temporary supension of the downtown sit-in.
Tomorrow morning, a report I co-researched for Human Rights Watch, titled “Anatomy of a State Security Case: The “Victorious Sect” Arrests” will finally be launched online. The report investigates how Mubarak’s State Security Police fabricates terror cases, taking the “Victorious Sect” round-ups in the spring of 2006 as a case study.
I had the pleasure of working with HRW’s senior investigative lawyer John Sifton, of the Terrorism/Counterterrorism Program, this summer on the report in the months before I took off to Berkeley. Some additional research had to be done while I was in the US, and then the report was further delayed to confirm more details and update some sections. I’m glad it’s finally out.
The report will also be available in Arabic.