Communique from Cairo Re: Egypt Trip

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What follows is a response from our Comrades from Cairo to the recent proposal from our Movement Building Group to send OWS Ambassadors to monitor upcoming elections in Egypt. You can also download this communique as a pdf file, as it was originally sent to us.

To our kindred occupiers in Zuccotti park,

When we called out to you, requesting you join us on 12 November in defending our revolution and in our campaign against the military trial of civilians in Egypt, your solidarity—pictures from marches, videos, and statements of support—added to our strength.

However, we recently received news that your General Assembly passed a proposal authorizing $29,000 dollars to send twenty of your number to Egypt as election monitors. Truth be told, the news rather shocked us; we spent the better part of the day simply trying to figure out who could have asked for such assistance on our behalf.

We have some concerns with the idea, and we wanted to join your conversation.

It seems to us that you have taken to the streets and occupied your parks and cities out of a dissatisfaction with the false promises of the game of electoral politics, and so did our comrades in Spain, Greece and Britain. Regardless of how one stands on the efficacy of elections or elected representatives, the Occupy movement seems outside the scope of this; your choice to occupy is, if nothing else, bigger than any election. Why then, should our elections be any cause for celebration, when even in the best of all possible worlds they will be just another supposedly “representative” body ruling in the interest of the 1% over the remaining 99% of us? This new Egyptian parliament will have effectively no powers whatsoever, and—as many of us see it—its election is just a means of legitimating the ruling junta’s seizure of the revolutionary process. Is this something you wish to monitor?

We have, all of us around the world, been learning new ways to represent ourselves, to speak, to live our politics directly and immediately, and in Egypt we did not set out to the streets in revolution simply to gain a parliament. Our struggle—which we think we share with you—is greater and grander than a neatly functioning parliamentary democracy; we demanded the fall of the regime, we demanded dignity, freedom and social justice, and we are still fighting for these goals. We do not see elections of a puppet parliament as the means to achieve them.

But even though the idea of election monitoring doesn’t really do it for us, we want your solidarity, we want your support and your visits. We want to know you, talk with you, learn one another’s lessons, compare strategies and share plans for the future. We think that activists or as people committed to serious change in the systems we live in, there is so much more that we can do together than legitimizing electoral processes (leave that boring job to the Carter Foundation) that seem so impoverished next to the new forms of democracy and social life we are building. It should be neither our job nor our desire to play the game of elections; we are occupying and we should build our spaces and our networks because they themselves are the basis on which we will build the new. Let us deepen our lines of communication and process and discover out what these new ways of working together and supporting one another could be.

Any time you do want to come over, we’ve got plenty of comfy couches available. It won’t be fancy, but it will be fun.

Yours, as always, in solidarity,

Comrades from Cairo
13 November, 2011

P.S. We finally got an email address:

6 Responses to “Communique from Cairo Re: Egypt Trip”

  1. odd ah

    I am personally not sure that sending 20 people is the right action. Why so many peeps? And at such a huge price tag?! Ive traveled in europe for 8 months on $1,500.00, several times. I think ten people would suffice and some additional shoestring travel budgeting would cut the cost.

  2. Tom Gillis

    I have some friends in Cairo and the impression I’ve gotten from them is that the April 6 Coalition, which has invited the OWS delegation, is something like the of the Egyptian Revolution.

    And also, there’s some suspicion that the delegation will be too closely tied to the US State Dept for their visas and for access + travel around Cairo.

    I’ll post more about this when I have more info.


    I’m sorry but this seems like a very bad idea to me. It is very important to carefully read this letter in both the contemporary and historical political framework- no need for history lessons here….Yes the final paragraph is inviting and is a message of solidarity, but what does the rest of the letter says? Please let’s take that into account and let’s consider how this could be interpreted by many people in Egypt. Regardless of all the good intentions and the solidarity that has united our struggle, we have absolutely no reason to be monitoring anyone’s election process around the world…we should probably be monitoring our own which is in shameful….I think symbolically this is a terrible move. Our presence there at the time of an election could have very serious repercussions on their movement and our ability to continue to act in true solidarity to create a global movement. We (actually you) would be an American presence- regardless of your motives….also the occupiers represent only a small fraction of the people of Egypt…how do you think most people there really feel about somebody, anyone monitoring their elections? Now if you decide to go, go on a nice little trip to Egypt and connect with people there great…take 30 grant and go to Egypt…have a good trip…but let’s just call it that…at this point one should ask:” is that fair to people here? We need resources to rebuild a home, to support cities all around the US that are under attack and the boroughs here at home…Common OWS! Let people do it for themselves! That’s true solidarity! We don’t need to be the watchdog of the world…sorry if this sounds harsh…if I had been at that GA I would have blocked this…but I wasn’t so, have a nice trip, what can I say…
    “we spent the better part of the day simply trying to figure out who could have asked for such assistance on our behalf”

    • Goose

      As a dual citizen (Egyptian/American) who participated in the revolution here in Cairo I have to say you will do horrible damage to US-Egyptian relations if you carry through with this plan to send people to Cairo. Now is not the time for such actions. It is arrogant to think that you are somehow more qualified to observe Egyptian elections than Egyptians are. You may very likely be regarded as spies. I’m sorry, solidarity is welcome, but there are too many who will jump on this visit and twist it (wrongly or perhaps rightly) into something sinister. Please please please, stay there in NY. There are human beings whose lives may be affected negatively by ill thought out initiatives such as this. If you want a holiday in Egypt, book a Nile cruise, but don’t go through with this.