Central Security Forces conscripts in Dekheila, west of Alexandria, went on mutiny yesterday, staging protests, firing into the air, then tried storming Dekheila’s police station, setting fire to two police cars, after an officer assaulted a conscript in the camp.
Residents in the area according to eyewitnesses joined the conscripts, who were chanting “We are soldiers. We are oppressed” إحنا عساكر مظلومين which lasted for hours before senior officers convinced the soldiers to return to their barracks, as the interior minister announced the suspension of the officer and opened an investigation into the incident.
This is not the first time the CSF conscripts go on strike since the outbreak of the revolution. I recall on the 29 of January, during our failed attempt to storm the interior ministry, that the man next to me was a CSF conscript who told me he had escaped from his camp on the first day of the uprising and decided to join the protests. I also met in Tahrir two days ago a CSF conscript from Menya, who told me he refused to shoot protesters on the Friday of Anger and allowed some of the detained activists he had in custody to escape, only to be punished by his officer with electric shocks and imprisonment for ten days.
The above mentioned two cases are my own personal experiences. Other activists I know, almost all of them, encountered at some point during the uprising similar cases of CSF soldiers on mutiny joining in.
Moreover, local media reported on a number of occasions in the recent months cases where CSF conscripts went on strike in their camps over ill-treatment by the officers or over their work conditions. In those strikes, conscripts usually assaulted their officers and destroyed their offices.
The CSF are the interior ministry’s slave army. We have to confront them when they attack, but we should always do our best to win them over at the same time. It’s not an easy job, but they, not the officers, are our allies.