For Immediate Release
Open Letter of Solidarity with Egyptian Workers
U.S.-based Campaign for Peace and Democracy Sends Open Letter to Egyptian Workers Protesting Their Conditions
WASHINGTON - The New York-based Campaign for
Peace and Democracy sent an open letter today to workers in Egypt, who
have been protesting in the streets over the past several
For more details, see the text of the open letter below.
TO EGYPTIAN LABOR PROTESTERS
from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy
New York City
We are writing to extend our
heartfelt solidarity and support to you, Egyptian workers, who in recent
months have been courageously demanding that your government address your
desperate economic conditions. The American press has been shamefully
muted about the grim economic and political realities of life for people
in Egypt, a key strategic U.S. ally in the Middle East. But in an
eye-opening article in The New York Times of April 28, 2010, Labor
Protests Test Egypt s Government, by Michael Slackman, the curtain was
lifted, for a moment at least. The article says,
- CAIRO-Day after day, hundreds of workers from all over Egypt have
staged demonstrations and sit-ins outside Parliament, turning sidewalks
in the heart of the capital into makeshift camps and confounding
government efforts to bring an end to the protests.
- Nearly every day since February, protesters have chanted demands
outside Parliament during daylight and laid out bedrolls along the
pavement at night. The government and its allies have been unable to
silence the workers, who are angry about a range of issues, including low
- Using an emergency law that allows arrest without charge and
restricts the ability to organize, the Egyptian government and the ruling
National Democratic Party have for decades blocked development of an
effective opposition while monopolizing the levers of power. The open
question one that analysts say the government fears is whether the
workers will connect their economic woes with virtual one-party rule and
organize into a political force.
- This week, with blankets stacked neatly behind them, at least four
different groups were banging pots, pans and empty bottles and chanting
slogans. There were factory workers, government workers, employees of a
telephone company and handicapped men and women. The group of handicapped
people said they had been there for 47 days, demanding jobs and
- The government has tried to define workers complaints as pocketbook
issues, analysts said, hoping that if specific demands are met, workers
will disband without blaming those in charge and without adding political
change to their list of priorities.
Try as the Egyptian government
might to define your complaints as simply narrow pocketbook issues,
divorced from democratic rights to protest, assemble, and assert labor s
interests in the political arena, the distinction won't hold. They are
inextricably linked, and this is true today in Egypt, Iran, China, the
Philippines and everywhere else. Egyptian workers must have the right to
freely assemble, protest and strike, and to form independent trade unions
and political parties.
As Americans, we repudiate the
hypocritical policy of the United States, our own government, which turns
a blind eye to human rights abuses on the part of its allies, such as
Egypt, while decrying such transgressions by governments that defy U.S.
power. The Campaign for Peace and Democracy firmly believes that a just
and peaceful world must be based on respect for human rights
We salute you in your brave
struggle. We understand that the Mubarak government, which heads a de
facto one-party state, is contemplating a crackdown on labor protesters.
We will do all in our power to mobilize here in the United States and in
countries around the world to prevent this from happening.
In peace and solidarity,
Landy Thomas Harrison
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND
Since its inception in 1982 the Campaign for Peace and Democracy has
been critical of U.S. imperial foreign policy while at the same time
vigorously defending democratic rights everywhere, whether in countries
allied with the United States or in countries targeted by the U.S.
In recent years, the Campaign issued a 2002 sign-on statement, "We
Oppose Both Saddam Hussein and the U.S. War on Iraq: A Call for a New,
Democratic U.S. Foreign Policy." Subsequently, CPD launched actions
in opposition to the Israeli attack on Gaza and worked with Czech and
Polish peace activists to block the installation of U.S. radar and
missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland. It protested the
persecution of trade unionists and human rights activists, such as Shirin
Ebadi, as well as students and gays, in Iran. In October 2009 it
issued a widely circulated call for the Obama administration to end U.S.
military action in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The Campaign opposed the Cold War by promoting "detente from
below." It engaged Western peace activists in the defense of the
rights of democratic dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe,
and enlisted East-bloc human rights activists against anti-democratic
U.S. policies in countries like Nicaragua and Chile.