WATCH: Journalist Arrested and Beaten Alongside Protesters in Egypt, Secretly Records Ordeal
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We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, but we’re going now to Egypt, where running battles between police and anti-government protesters continued into the early hours of Thursday morning. Protesters defied a government ban on gatherings of any kind and a huge police presence to take to the streets for a second day in the largest demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak in three decades, since he took office.
On Wednesday, protesters faced tear gas, water cannon, beatings from the heavy police presence on the streets of Cairo. Witnesses said that live ammunition was also fired into the air. Up to 1,200 people were arrested, including a number of journalists. Six people have reportedly been killed since Tuesday.
Elsewhere in the country, about 1,000 people gathered outside the morgue in Suez to protest against the death of one of three protesters who died in clashes on Tuesday. Protesters threw petrol bombs at a government building, setting parts of it on fire.
The unprecedented popular demonstrations have been inspired by the recent uprising in Tunisia. Protesters have vowed to stay on the streets until the government falls. Organizers are promising to hold the biggest demonstrations yet on Friday after weekly prayers. They’ve been using social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations, but both Facebook and Twitter have been periodically blocked inside Egypt.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear agency and Nobel Peace laureate, is expected to return to Egypt from Vienna today to join the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not criticize the Egyptian government, saying only the country was stable and Egyptians have the right to protest, while urging all parties to avoid violence.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: As we monitor this situation carefully, we call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence. We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and we urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites. We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.
AMY GOODMAN: Among the journalists who were detained in Egypt was Guardian reporter Jack Shenker. He was arrested and beaten by plainclothes police on Tuesday night and shoved into a truck with dozens of other people. He managed to keep his dictaphone with him and recorded what was happening as the truck carried them outside of Cairo. The dramatic audio was posted on the Guardian website. This is some of what he described.
JACK SHENKER: So, we’re in the back of a central security truck after being severely beaten and herded into a sort of holding pen in downtown Cairo and then transferred us onto the truck and a few more beatings. And we’re now being driven out to the desert. And the police have been incredibly violent with all of us in the truck. And we’re herded in here. There must between 30 and 40 people in a very confined space.
The truck is spinning around corners, throwing us side by side, and people are drenched in sweat and they’re falling all over. It’s completely pitch black in here. We just have the lights of the orange street lamps outside shining through the very thick grates, and they’re illuminating people with blood on their faces, bruises all over them. Some people are curled up in the corner praying. Others are desperately trying to use cell phones.