When out in these mass protests, one of the things we consider most is our personal safety. And rightfully so. There are many things to worry about and consider while still accomplishing the goals of why we are out; especially when violence breaks out.
I beg you though, do not forget our children who are out there as well.
One of the characteristics of Tahrir since #Jan25 has been the fact that it has become the home to homeless and a place for street children. This means there are a lot of minors who roam the area and sometimes find themselves helping in the rock throwing. They don’t have adults to give advice or guidance, and many of them probably don’t feel the need for adult advice. Additionally, a lot of minors who aren’t homeless or street based are there for the adrenalin and the fun. They have witnessed violence, death, and aggression over the past two years, and are more likely to participate in such activities.
But they are still vulnerable. In the most recent clashes, 3 out of 4 deaths were minors under the age of 18 (I believe so). Jika, Ahmed Naguib, and Islam Fathy. Additionally up to 74 minors have been arrested. They are arrested on the normal accusations of fighting, defiance to authorities, causing harm to others, and disturbing the peace. Thankfully, most of them are released somewhere between 1 to 4 days. But, they are not released untouched. Many of them are beaten up and robbed by the police having their money, phones, and IDs stolen. They are all receiving medical attention.
In the past, during the days of the military trials, things weren’t this easy. They were not released, placed in prisons with adults, and subjected to all forms of violence that one might find in prisons. Juvenile prisons are not much better. They often received unjust sentences just like all the protestors would when under military trials.
There has been word that Morsi has asked for civilian trials of the protestors arrested this round, to be transferred to military trials instead (will link an article soon to this). If this is the case, I urge us all to be more vigilant in caring for our kids. Whether they believe it or not, they need us and their subjection to violence and aggression will negatively affect them for the duration of their life. We cannot let this happen.
So, just as women are in need of protection in Tahrir, so are the children. I request that they become a high priority. When you run, grab one with you. Advise them to stay back and far from the front lines, stay in the midst of the majority of protestors, and not to roam the side streets. Adopt one for the night, have him follow you around so you can keep an eye on him. Educate them on why we don’t want violence, and rock throwing is not the preferred activity while protesting. Explain why peace will get us our goals.
All in all, protect them and use it as an opportunity to educate them in Tahrir etiquette as well as protestor safety.
Please, do not forget the children.
If you see violations against minors or children, please call this hotline to report, get advice, and seek help. 011-555-00-600
For further updates, follow @manadeelwara2 and check for updates on their blog. http://manadeelwaraq.blogspot.com/2012/11/blog-post.html