Earth Forum Held in conjunction with the World Social ForumTunisia, March 2013

In January 25th, 2011, the Egyptian Revolution was exploded as a result of social injustice, corruption, despotism, in addition to the effects of Tunisian Revolution which revived the hope that Egyptians might restore their rights; as they have the ability to topple the whole regime and get rid of the military, as well.
The youth lit the first spark. Then, millions of people surrounded and supported them. Originally, it was the revolution of the big cities.

On the other hand, the revolution exempted the army – the shield of the ruling regime – from such an embarrassing mission that irritated it a lot. That mission was eradicating the idea of bequeathing which was ready but the final touches. The army at the same time was searching for an exit of that dilemma.
The revolution also exposed some of the elite and official political parties that participated in fostering the ruling regime in its fake political diversity.

From another side, it exposed the groups of political Islam that refused to participate in it from the first second of its launch. Moreover, they made fun of it .then they accelerated to negotiate the ruling party and withdrew from the blazing squares. Originally, they didn’t join the revolution but after the revolutionary masses had defeated the state oppressing organ.

In last two years, the Military Council and the groups of political Islam had seized the youth and masses of the revolution, and refused to achieve the revolution targets by using every method (armed violence, arrests and kidnappings, military trials and issuing decrees and laws prohibiting protests, demonstrations and sit-ins, and surgeonfish, and detections of virginity, and rumors for defaming the revolution).

Both Military Council and political Islam groups insisted on keeping the bases of regime, and policies and legislatives thereof. Only morphological differences were done, as they replaced the ruling regime by the groups of political Islam.

The Reasons beyond the Abduction of the Revolution:
– The youth hadn’t a long history with the political work, in addition to their limited experience in struggle and their illusions about the Military Council (the army and the people are one hand) as well. On the other hand, Muslim Brotherhood had a hand in the exclusion of them from the political scene.
– The weakness and dissociation of the democratic and leftist forces played such a crucial role in the current results.
– As the revolution was in the big cities, away from peasants and the people of the rural areas; the latest were not able to daily participate in its incidents in a way that would crush the forces of the regime and political Islam groups.
All previous reasons played a role in the disability of the early decisiveness of the revolution.

In spite of all that:
1. The Egyptian people have broken the wall of fear forever and with no return
2. Broad sectors of them now believe in their ability of resistance and initiative against the factions of anti-revolution; as they have exposed their practices and hostile resolutions
3. The factions of anti-revolution; represented in political Islam stream headed by Muslim Brotherhood ( Down with Murshid) and the Military Council (down with Military), and the leaders and members of the dissolved National Party ,which are still trying to restore their positions and maintain their presence and domination over the organs of the State and the Egyptian economic sectors, have been exposed
4. Furthermore, they daily expose the stances of those who can be described as hesitators; and others who search for a role or seek for hindering the revolution and the supporters thereof – that seem like bubbles and scum accompanying it.

Peasants and the Egyptian Revolution:
– Undoubtly, broad segments of the rural areas didn’t participate in the revolution and it is certain that the peasants were watching its incidents on satellite channels. All of them were supposed to be the expected surrounding to foster the revolution in the big cities ( Suez – Cairo – Alexandria )
– Basically, the peasants benefited from the revolution, as some of them belonging to the villages in Daqahlia, Alexandria and Behira restored their lands which were previously stolen before the revolution. That happened as of February14th, 2011 in the villages and capital of their governorates, while their first demonstration before the headquarter of the Cabinet in Cairo was in March 13th, 2011, it was about 500 peasants from Daqahliya, Gharbiya and Alexandria.
Two cases in Daqahliya and Alexandria can be excluded; as they restored the lands from which they were expelled in 1997and 2008 before the revolution, in the era of the tyrant.
The first case, a cultivated land in the village of Talkha, Daqahliya was restored in January 31th, 2011. While the second had been an agricultural land that was on purpose turned into a building land, it was restored on January 28th, 2011 in the afternoon, such land is located in Toson, the east of Alexandria.

– In this context, we mention that such restoration was with no significant resistance, as a consequence of the humiliating defeat the police gained or the restoration might be peaceful because the police was indulged in suppressing the revolution.
With exception to Omareya village, in Behira , as in February 14th ,2011 in the evening, the land aggressor brought an armed group in order to frighten the peasants, but they confronted it and in the wake of the expulsion of the armed group, they restored their land. It is noteworthy to say that the chairman of the State Security in Behira governorate was the aggressor; that chairman was the direct enemy of the peasants.
– Another case in Al-Kombania, a neighboring village in 16-2-2011, large landowners “aggressors” tried to frighten the peasants, but they failed too.
– From another side, as of April 22nd 2011, the peasants of Fayoum breached the state resolution (issued in 2008) stipulating the prohibition of planting rice. In spite of gaining in 2009 a court order repealing the aforementioned one, the resolution of prohibition still into effect after the revolution. Such resolution irritated the whole peasants and farmers, as rice is their main crop and the expected catastrophic result of the resolutions was much deterioration in their living conditions properties of the soil because the soil needs the chemical characteristics of rice and the rice irrigation water as well.
On the other hand, the said resolution badly affects the rice mills and the people therein work. The factories of animal feeds which use the crop residues and waste in through their work.
– In brief, in spite of the chase by army forces that damaged the cultivated areas, the peasants breached the State resolution.

Concerning the agricultural requirements (specially fertilizers), the peasants of Shubrakeit in Behira succeeded – after long suffering- in exploring the best way for getting them. “Besieging the headquarter of Agricultural Cooperative Assembly for days and preventing the workers therein from going out” was their best way. As of September 9th 2011, such way turned to be a custom and tradition.

Aforementioned incidents are examples of activities made by the peasants through the past two years (2011- 2012), while most of them took place in the first year. The significance herein resides is the revolutionary status motivates them to benefit through restoring their looted rights and executing the judicial rulings in addition to confronting the manipulation of the shares of fertilizers. All the previous actions are legitimate rights. That is totally different from the direct participation in the daily incidents connected to the revolution whether in their villages, capital of governorates or Cairo.

On the reality of transitional justice among the peasants:

“Transitional Justice” means the application of a legal model – on those who committed crimes at the age of the revolution. such legal model is different from the usual legal procedures in the time of peace ( before the revolution); which means dealing with those criminals in logic, method, procedures and laws that match with the revolution targets and variables both revolutionists and oppressed, defeated masses seek to. Reviewing some of procedures, laws and ceremonies that were applied through past two years on those who committed crimes against the people, then comparing all that with what was applied on the revolutionists, we shall exactly see what the reality of the so-called “Transitional Justice” in the Egyptian Revolution:

First: Right of Establishing a Syndicate of Peasants:
The Egyptian peasants are the only sector who is deprived of establishing a syndicate. No laws since the revolution have been issued to alter such odd status and give them the right to establish a syndicate. A lot of workers in many industrial and service institutions began to establish independent syndicates away from governmental ones and such syndicates joined a union called “the Union of Independent Syndicates” not the governmental workers union, but the number of the peasants syndicates which were established or joined the independent union is very limited and doesn’t express the true number of peasants in the society, in addition, these syndicates are presided by a governmental syndicalistic or a member of Muslim Brotherhood or leaders belonging to Tagammmu Party that previously participated in establishing the peasants union in 1983 that dramatically collapsed in 1997, that gives the significance that those syndicates are inactive and inefficient with no role in the revolution or the political life.

Second: The Decline in the economic viability of agriculture
The expulsion of peasants from the lands of Agrarian Reform and Waqfs have stopped for a while, but the cost of agriculture have raised, due to the skyrocketing prices of (the requirements of agriculture such as fertilizers, seeds and pesticides … etc , and agricultural land rents, taxes, interests on agricultural loans and fuel). Additionally, on comparing the decline in the prices of crops and agricultural products to the costs of agriculture, we find a notable decline in the returns which the peasants gain.

Consequently, the rate of the ouster of the tenants from their lands increased since they stopped farming and other started to sell their own lands. Moreover, the constant chase to the peasants by the heirs of the previous feudalists. Besides, the collusion of the Agrarian Reform Authority in favor of the heirs as it has refused to make contracts for the peasants who fully paid the land price. The Agrarian Reform Authority also deprived the peasants from the documents proving their rights in the land to be submitted to the Judiciary. Hence, great number of them was ousted. On the other hand, Waqfs repealed the lease contracts or highly raised their prices.

Third: The violation of possession law by Ministry of Agriculture:
Law of agriculture No. 30 of 1966 (article 90) provides the right of the cropper to register the possession of the land in the Cooperative Assembly under his name (whether he is its owner or just a tenant or even possessed the land by hand). As a result, the law stipulates the right of the peasant in the requirements of the agriculture like seeds and fertilizers. However, the Ministry of Agriculture issued administrative instructions stating that the registration should be only for the landowners. The outcome was the deprivation of the tenants from the services presented by agricultural assemblies, moreover. It created a black market where prices were high. The disappearance, deterioration and lack of quality were the expected outcome of such irresponsible policies. The cost of agriculture raised, the productivity of the land decreased, the quality of the harvest declined and the net return of the peasant used to gain became less.

Fourth: interests on loans raised, the peasants became unable to pay:
In view of the rise of the interests on agricultural loans (from 4% in 1960s to 16% in 1990s to 19% now including the administrative expenses) and the transformation of village banks to commercial ones, junior and poor peasants became unable to repay their debts, and the banks consequently filed cases against them. Hundred thousands of them were imprisoned. On the other hand, the state altered nothing, and the reason beyond their disability to repay (high interest rate) remained. Besides, collecting the payments by the attachment on the land not the corps as it was in 1960s is permissible. Few months ago, the Banks assumed that they dropped the debts of the defaulters, but it’s truly incorrect.

Fifth:The Monopoly of the State and the private sector for marketing crops:
When the state and the private sector set the prices of agricultural inputs, loan interests and taxes, such monopoly for marketing crops means setting their prices as well. Accordingly, controlling the revenue of the peasant. That puts the latter under a suffocating siege with no way for survival. Like a death penalty is the peasants’ deprivation of marketing their crops with high prices through exportation. Both deprivation and monopoly participated in opening the doors before the grant foreign companies, working in producing and marketing the agricultural requirements in the Egyptian market, to control such siege particularly after selling of national fertilizers companies to foreigners and blockading the Egyptian agricultural centers of research that produce improved seeds of high efficiency in order to overcome all competitors in the market of fertilizers, seeds and pesticides.

Sixth: Depriving Poor and Junior Peasants from the Reclaimed Lands:
The siege was imposed, the tenants stopped cultivating, many landlords get rid of their lands by selling, the states denied its promises for those suffering from expulsion after the application of the new agricultural rental laws (96/1992), the peasants were deprived from the reclaimed lands, obstacles were imposed, while facilities were provided for giant investors and companies, peasants found no way but to immigrate away from their villages and getting involved in the hordes of homelessness and unemployment.

Seventh: Legislations, Decrees and Court of Values for Supporting the Feudalists’ Heirs and Organized Robbery Gangs:
In 1994, the minister of agriculture issued an administrative resolution no 1091permitting the reconciliation between Agrarian Reform Authority and the previous feudalists over some the lands confiscated by the Agrarian Reform law and distributed over the needy, poor and peasants. Whereas such resolution is administrative and contradicting with the agrarian reform law, it would be better to give instructions to make ownership contracts for those who paid instead of breaching law and allowing the feudalists to restore the lands and expel the peasants by dirty legal tricks like what happened with peasants of Talkha, Dahaqliya in 1997.

Courts of Values still working, their laws still applicable. They are exceptional courts, dressed in civil uniform. Half of Their members are chosen out of the judicial organ, from the reactionary trend. These courts were the invention of Saddat’s parliament to return Al-Herasa land to the feudalists after passing the law of lifting custody no 69/1974.

In 2012, the ruling military council issued a decree no 4 of 2012, altering law no. 8 of 1997 (concerning guarantees and incentives of investments). That decree allowed the reconciliation with businessmen who committed crimes harming the Egyptian economy; seizure of public fund was included. The agricultural and vacant lands were under the umbrella of that public fund. The target beyond that decree was the confiscation of the stolen lands by buying them, with their market price at the time of stealing, to the people who originally stole them. That process was considered to be a reward to the criminals (such as organized robbery gangs and giant investors who with illegal methods seized wide areas of state lands through the public authority for the agricultural reconstruction and development.)

Eighth: the Armed Forces is Capitalist that leases the lands, fights the people of Quorsaya, and military try the peasants:

National Service Organ of Armed Forces in Al-Nubaria manages 6th of October farm and hires to the peasants parts thereof. In the open agricultural land the acre annually costs 4- 5 thousand pounds, while the organ hires the acre in the greenhouse land with 12 thousand pounds. It acts like a capitalist targeting profit unlike previous eras when the peasant soldiers were cultivating the land in order to feed the Armed Forces.
In the farm which we referred to, the organ warned a number of the tenants to vacate the land. To renew the contracts, it provided raising the rent of the greenhouse (3 carats) from 1500 to 2000 pounds per year. As the suggested rent would totally swallow the return of their work, they found no alternative but leaving with a sigh.

Meanwhile, the peasants of Qursaya, located in the course of the Nile in Giza, rent spaces of the island’s territory from Agrarian Reform since years. Some of men belonging to the ruling National Democratic party disputed them earlier. After that in 2007, some troops tried to capture parts of the land, but the tenants confronted them and filed a case. The case ended in a judgment in favor of the peasants in 2008. In November18th 2012, the troops retried and collided with the peasants, in addition, they blocked an important road in the south of Qursaya island. The confrontation ended in the death of a peasant and the injury of others. Moreover the police arrested 25 peasants and detained them pending the trial.
The same happened in Narch2011 in Al- Omareya manor in Behira, and in basin no 13 in Al-Mamora in Alexandria; where a number of peasants were arrested and military tried. Then, 8 of them were imprisoned for 5 years. After a year, they were released after acquittal.

At the end, we refer to two parallel tracks:
The first track concerns the approach the state is going to follow after January 25th 2011towards who were charged with killing the demonstrators and corruption. Some of them, their trials ended in acquittal. Others were condemned, but the court of cassation ordered retrial. Furthermore, the issued decrees allowed the reconciliation with those who stole the public fund as if they are rewarding them for the crimes they committed.
The second track concerns the stance of the state towards poor and junior peasants who are suffering from the violations of their privacy and they are imprisoned and tried. Then, the public opinion discovers their acquittal, but at least after a year, which points to the absence of justice and confirms the necessities of its application or by imposing revolutionary procedures that can restore rights and instill freedoms. Without purposive and firm efforts targeting blockading the anti-revolution, prevailing awareness and organizing the poor, everything shall be in vain.

The Committee of Peasant Solidarity
Egypt – February 2013
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