Saturday, August 31, 2013

Asmaa Anwer Shehata's testimony.

Asmaa Anwer Shehata, Studied Mass communication at Faculty of Arts,works at "Yaqazt Fekr".

My testimony on the events of the dispersal of the rabaa sit-in:
At 6:30 am, Zahraa & I were waiting for members from ‘Youth against the Coup’ for a demonstration that was planned for that morning.
While we were in the car, on Anwar Almufti street right behind Tiba mall, we heard some guys behind us screaming “get ready, alert” and banging on whatever’s on their way as a sign of warning. Suddenly, gas bombs were thrown at us.
I drove the car to inside the ‘safety zone’. If we had got down from the car, we wouldn’t have been able to reach the safety zone. Then we left the car. The brothers told us that all the women are gathering in the mosque. What mattered to me was getting Zahraa to a safe place so that I could go back to photographing & taping.
It was very chaotic in the mosque when all of a sudden the first ‘martyr-to-be’ arrived inside the mosque. He had an odd-shaped bullet wound and died within minutes of arriving.
I left Zahraa and went inside the field hospital to document the deaths and injuries. What a horrible thing I saw. I swear by Allah, in less than 30 minutes, the injured and dead were arriving in large numbers like birds shot off a tree.
The doctor standing in the room assigned for the martyrs called out onto me. “We need documentation (photographing) over here” so I went inside and started photographing. There were bodies all shot in the head and chest. The bullets left weird marks on the bodies.
I will upload the photos so that the whole world can see the criminality of the police and army troops.
In the field hospital, gas masks were distributed because we were suffocating from the gas bombs thrown at us.
Then, I went to the other room assigned for the injured, took a lot of photos and then back to the martyr’s room. Two hours had passed since the firing attack started, there were exactly 30 martyrs in the room.
Unfortunately my camera’s battery was out of charge, so I went to the media centre, which was also medically equipped for receiving the injured. They were all over the place. I took a charger from a colleague, charged the battery for 15 minutes then went back to the field hospital to photograph the martyrs. Meanwhile, we were the target of gas bombs; the sound of bullets fired was horrifying and an army helicopter and a police helicopter were rotating above us.
The square was colored grey, after the sit-in tents were burnt.
I went again to the media centre after my camera’s battery was out of charge again. I didn’t find the charger, so I went outside. I found an old man breaking the pavement bricks into pieces. I sat in front of him and helped him by gathering those pieces into anything I can find. Some other guys would then carry the gathered pieces to the outskirts of the sit-in. When the old man got tired I helped the guys carry the bricks.
At that time, I saw Asmaa El-Beltagy (Allah rest her soul in peace) standing by the mosque’s door (the one overlooking Nasr road). She was gathering stones into a white bucket, as white as her heart. When the bucket was filled I held its handle to carry it for her. At that moment, our eyes met, she smiled at me.
I took the bucket to the outside a little bit, when all of a sudden bullets were fired at us. The guys with us shouted ‘everyone get down on the ground now ‘I knelt on my knees and then the guy next to me was martyred.
I transferred the bucket I had to the furthest point I could reach to deliver it to the guys on the defense line and went back to fetch more. On my way back, the firing started again, I fell on the ground as a result of people pushing I stayed on the ground until the firing stopped after a few minutes.
When I went back I didn’t find Asmaa Elbeltagy so I stood in front of the hospital’s door and started taking photos again this time with my mobile. One of the martyrs that were carried into the hospital had three quarters of his head missing. I swear by Allah, most of his head wasn’t there except for a part of the left side. The firing of tear gas and bullets was hysterical.
I took shield under a tree; bullets were flying above me and hitting the streetlights. Some bullets had an abnormal sound as if they went through the air faster than the speed of sound; I hope the sound is obvious in the video.
I returned to the mosque to check on Zahraa. Inside, I found the martyrs’ bodies lying in the middle and on their left and right lied the injured – the injured were brought here after the field hospital was completely filled. Then, Ethaar called me to inform me that Habiba Ahmed and Abdurrahman Eldeeb were martyred, so I went out of the mosque and cried. Outside, I met Heba Zakaria and went with her to find Habiba because the news of her death was uncertain. The medical center –which was overly targeted by snipers-, was full of the dead and injured, yet we didn’t find her there.
The center’s windows bore bullet marks which lead the doctors to hang bed sheets on the windows in order to prevent the targeting of the people inside. We were advised to stay away from the windows. Heba and I went outside where we then met Sarah Alaa on the phone with Habiba’s father who confirmed that she was martyred and that he had her body is at Tiba mall.
Sarah ran like a crazy to get there. I stopped her because it was impossible to get to Tiba mall due to the heavy shooting by snipers.
While we were standing in front of Hall No.2, where the martyrs’ bodies were, some guys were passing holding a body, and "Sarah" screamed: "Asmaa!! Asmaa El-Beltagy", we ran with them to the medical center, they told us that her case is critical and she would be admitted to the operating room at once.
I saw "Asmaa", her face was white and cold, I wiped her face with my hands, adjusted the hijab on her head. She looked like an angel as she was her whole life.
They asked us to leave, to make space for the injured, I went back to the mosque, and the odor of the tear gas was very conspicuous. "Zahraa" was holding an infant, about 4 months old, she said that she found him on the floor and nobody was watching him, so she held him up to protect him.
The children were suffocating from the gas that filled the mosque, moreover, there was poor ventilation and the power was cut off which means the fans couldn’t work.
Suddenly, we got news that they stopped firing! Everyone said: "Thanks to Allah" and "Allah is the greatest". I got out checking the news; I found the situation even worse than before!
Outside, I met Mohamed Eldeeb (Abdurrhaman Eldeeb’s brother), I cried, he consoled me: ‘He is in heaven now. My father’s here, he will be pleased to see you’ so I went to greet Mr. Khaled, he was standing strong, reposeful and smiling. I have never seen such emotional strength like I have seen in this family and in Mr. Elbeltagy’s family.
Afterwards, I went into hall no. 2, when I learned that Abdurrahman’s mother was inside, I kissed her forehead and her hand. She was telling us about Abdurrahman. Ahmed El-Masry was also there crying, when he saw me, he said: ‘Abdurrahman is dead, Asmaa’ and uncovered Abdurrahman’s face for me to see it. I cried. He looked comfortable as if he was asleep.
I couldn’t bear this anymore so I went and sat on the hall’s outer staircase with Zahraa Bassam when suddenly we saw Ammar El-Beltagy heading towards us smiling. He said ‘Come, say farewell to Asmaa’.
Asmaa’s body was in the medical center’s ground floor, so Zahraa and I went there. There we found her mother (my aunt) in one of the halls which had its floor covered with the martyrs’ bodies. There was a body on a stretcher beside my aunt. I asked: ‘Is this Asmaa?’ The answer came yes. I patted her wishing I could hug her.
Afterwards, her family said they are going to take the body and that the car is parked outside the center’s door on Anwar Al-Mufti street. They carried Asmaa’s body to the door where there was firing of live ammunition, so I told Asmaa’s brother Ammar: ‘not now, wait’ but he insisted.
He said to the guys next to him: ‘I will go first and you follow me quickly carrying Asmaa. We will take shield in those two parking cars’ and so it was. Just as they reached those cars, a huge police truck – I have only seen trucks this huge on the news from Palestine- arrived.
The police heavily fired live ammunition at us – those in the medical center. Everybody fell on the floor in attempt to avoid getting shot.
Then, I felt something burning strongly in my side. I was on the floor. I didn’t know if I was alive or dying. I didn’t know if the shot was a bullet or cartouche.
The brother beside me told me: ‘You are injured’. He kept repeating ‘La Ilaha Ila Allah (There is no god but Allah’ and I repeated after him. I surrendered to the fact that I was dying except I didn’t feel this to be neither the pain of death nor of a bullet.
Live ammunition was still being fired at us. Two of us died as a result.
Suddenly, I found the brother beside me pulling me to the inside where a doctor can see me. At that time, another brother was injured and fell on the floor. I screamed at the former ‘take him inside first’, but he pulled both of us inside. At the time, Salma was with me. Her hand was bleeding. The doctor asked me: ‘Where does it hurt?’ I replied ‘I am not in pain, check her (pointing to Salma) first’. Therefore, he treated her, then another injured person came in, so the doctor rushed to him. There was another person on the floor that kept saying ‘I am bleeding. I am bleeding’
There were bodies on the floor, and people were repeating: ‘Pay attention to the martyrs’ bodies. Don’t step on them’ 
The firing was still going on, when all of a sudden I saw the people near the door getting out. I didn’t know if we should go outside or not. I looked for Zahraa and after I found her, we decided to go out anyway.
Just outside the door, I found the security forces with their rifles searching the rooms of the building and escorting the people under gunpoint to the outside. We were escorted in two queues like war prisoners. I looked behind me and saw a huge fire eating everything.
Afterwards, I felt my side hurting so much and I felt it bleeding and swollen. We kept walking in the queue under the security forces’ gunpoint. Simultaneously, the security forces outside were still firing.
We passed by El-Tayaran street, it was a ruin, a lot of smoke and a fire that was eating everything, I swear by Allah. We kept walking in side streets where I met Marwa and her mother. She knew I was injured so she took Zahraa and me to her home. While we were standing, Asmaa El-Khateeb came. She informed us that the troops set the field hospital and the media center on fire along with whoever was still inside and that those that got out tried to carry with them as many injured and the martyrs as they could.
While we were walking on the streets, people were waving for cars to stop so they can carry the injured and martyrs in them. One car was carrying 3 martyrs’ bodies one in the back seat, one on the hood and one on the trunk.
The scene was really ugly and the situation was terrifying; most of the cell phones were out of charge, besides, the signal was weak and we couldn’t know what was going on elsewhere. I tried to contact Romysaa and when I was finally able to contact her, I learned that she was trapped in the building she was and that she was shot in the leg.
Along the way were a lot of checkpoints, most of which were manned by thugs carrying weapons as if they are carrying toys. We had to go through more than 20. At one checkpoint, a thug glanced the face mask Marwa was wearing. He banged on the car in a sign for us to stop and said: ‘Why are you so nervous? You seem to be coming from Rabaa’ square’, but Allah willing we passed this checkpoint safely.
We reached a clinic, the doctor told me that he wouldn’t remove the cartouche right now since this required an operation and my case wasn’t that critical anyway. So, we went to my friend’s house (Zahraa Bassam and I) and stayed overnight.
This is my testimony on what happened with me on the 14th of august, 2013 during the dispersal of the Rabaa’ sit-in.
The photos and videos are in a safe place. If I came back today I will upload all of them, photos and videos of the martyrs in Rabaa’ and in El-Eman mosque.
I write this right before me leaving home to attend Asmaa El-Beltagy’s funeral. Today is a decisive day.
We will keep going till we earn our rights or die trying.

May Allah help us.

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