GETTING RID OF MUBARAK IS ONLY THE BEGINNING – Wasseem Wagdi tells rally

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A section of the 2,000 strong rally on Saturday in Trafalgar Square
A section of the 2,000 strong rally on Saturday in Trafalgar Square

Over 2,000 celebrated the ousting of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak at a rally in Trafalgar Square, central London, on Saturday organised by Amnesty International and supported by UK and international trade union federations.

Egyptian socialist Waseem Wagdi told the rally: ‘I come to you from spending a week in Tahrir Square.

‘I’ve seen people who have thrown themselves on the ground in front of tanks to stop them advancing one inch.

‘I have seen them with their bare hands defeat the biggest and fiercest police force.

‘Revolution until victory. In Egypt they were talking about a new society where no-one will be hungry, no-one will tortured and no-one will be locked up for expressing their view.

‘The slogan was bread, freedom and human dignity.

‘They had to get rid of Mubarak. This is only the beginning.

‘We will fight and we will win.’

Tunisian Amira Ben Gacem, a Jasmine Revolution activist, said: ‘We all are Arabs asking for freedom and democracy.

‘We have all the necessary resources. We have to make sure the revolution we have today is not hijacked by another dictator.

‘We are not going to be silent any more. Other countries will follow Tunisia and Egypt.’

Egyptian activist Ronya Naim said: ‘We stand here today a movement of people who believe in human rights for all.

‘We salute you, you have shown the power of people.

‘You have defied tanks and bullets – that is true of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

‘In towns and cities throughout the world we have gathered to stand with you.

‘We want you to know that while governments across the world have been waiting to see which way the wind blows, ordinary people have taken sides for freedom and human rights.

‘To get an orderly transition, depends on respecting the rights of the Egyptian people.

‘The Egyptian government must lift the state of emergency and end arbitrary detentions.

‘The Egyptian authorities must respect the right of people to protest, the right to work.’

Addressing British workers, she concluded: ‘We are proud to be free.

‘As Egyptians we will teach you how not to be silent. We will teach you how to be strong.’

Syrian activist Ghias Al-Jundi said: ‘I’ve a message from Syria – thank you Tunisia, thank you Algeria, thank you Egypt, we are going to do the same!

‘All people in the Middle East are wanting to do the same, they want to be free in Saudi Arabia, everywhere.

‘People are locked up because the dictators are afraid.

‘Freedom! All political prisoners should be freed from all Egyptian prisons.’

Another speaker said: ‘I’m proud to be Tunisian.

‘We are all Algerians today, we were all Egyptians yesterday and we were all Tunisians in January.

‘In Tunisia, there was unemployment, no human rights. The media was controlled by the government.

‘People took to the streets and died in the recent revolution.

‘Now we are free, we have to be vigilant for the counter-revolution.

‘Let’s keep the movement going, let’s free the whole of the Arab world.’

Algerian youth, 11-year-old Anas said: ‘We want to go back to our country for our parents to be free.

‘We demand the international community to support us.

‘We want to end military politics, and for a civilian government. Algeria will be free!’

Algerian speaker Said Lebeze added: ‘We need change.

‘We are here together to say, your time has come, we’ve had enough of terror and bureaucracy.’

Before the rally young Egyptian Shady Asaad told News Line: ‘I’m here to celebrate.

‘I want to show my support to the people in Algeria, too.

‘Because they started their protests today.

‘The rest of the Middle East, all the people of the Middle East, are looking to the Tunisian and Egyptian example.

‘Historically, we looked to Europe as an example of democracy. Now, I think it is the other way round.

‘People in Europe are talking about the cuts. I work in the social field and we are concerned for the poor and vulnerable people and how they will be affected.

‘I think people in Britain will rise up like our people in Egypt.

‘I talked to my dad in Egypt yesterday and he said, “We forced our government to step down; will you be able to do the same in Britain.”’

Fellow Egyptian, Dr Saad Hegazy said: ‘I admire these people. I’m very proud of the Egyptian people.

‘They struggle and fight against any terrible attitude toward anybody.

‘They are a great people. They spend most of their time looking after each other, helping elderly people.

‘You can’t call what is happening a revolution; the revolution is just beginning.

‘People are getting fed up with too much oppression. They struggle very, very well.

‘Please try to do your best for these people.’

Young Egyptian Tamer added: ‘I’m here to celebrate the success of the revolution in Egypt.

‘It’s a shame I’m not there. The only thing I can do is celebrate.

‘We are here to give the dictatorship a warning, it cannot be sustained and to give a message – to Egypt is coming a new civilisation.

‘Workers in Britain respect what Egyptians are expecting from you.’

Opening the rally, Amnesty general secretary Sehil Shetty said: ‘The people of Egypt and Tunisia have been a scare to governments who deny human rights.

‘Let’s expose the hypocrisy of our own governments as well.

‘In Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria people want change. They are demanding the right to live in dignity.’

ITUC global union federation general secretary Sharon Burrow said: ‘What an inspiration. Congratulations Egypt!

‘We know the power of people to stand up for fundamental rights knows no bounds.

‘We say to the people of Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia – stay the distance.

‘Young people today want something different, we salute you.

‘Workers in Egypt were at the heart of the struggle. When I saw the workers, I was so proud. They are at the centre of organising the peace.

‘People of Palestine, we say stay strong. We stand with you and the people of Egypt. We will not forget the people of Palestine.’

Speaking on behalf of the TUC, University and College Union general secretary Sally Hunt told the rally:

‘On behalf of the six and a half million trade unionists in this country, we stand with the people of Egypt.

‘We salute Egypt. Many years ago, ten days shook the world – now 18 days shook the world.’

She added: ‘Palestine say hello to Egypt, Algeria say hello to Egypt.

‘On behalf of the TUC, we will be with you and we will stay with you.’

David Cockcroft, International Transport Federation general secretary, said: ‘There is unfinished business. The army has to make sure Egypt is free, the trade unions have to make sure Egypt is free.’

He added: ‘Real democracy is when people take control. Goodbye Mubarak!’

NUJ president Pete Murray said: ‘Less than 24 hours ago we we going to be here in defiance. We are now here to celebrate.

‘Members of my union have seen the brutality of the Egyptian regime.

‘Photographers who showed the people climbing on tanks, afterwards were beaten up and one journalist was killed. Journalists can’t be neutral when it comes to human rights.’

‘Many people showing defiance can win. Here, the government is saying they are going to make cuts.

‘The message from Egypt is they are few and we are many. Victory to the people of Egypt.’