Shameful: Egyptian Protesters Pelted With US-Made Tear Gas Canisters (Photos)

It's a familiar tale -- US supplies military aid to regimes with spotty histories. Regime uses aid against its own people. Suppressed find remnants of military gear stamped with US insignia.

Yesterday, Egyptian riot cops in Cairo let off countless canisters of tear gas into crowds in an attempt to disperse the massive protests against Mubarak's regime. When citizens picked them up to throw them back, they saw they were clearly labeled with directions and warning in English, and stamped with the words 'MADE IN THE USA.' To see a picture from the ground in Cairo of one of these canisters captured by Reuters, go here, and scroll down to photo 80.

The canister reads, 'FOR USE ONLY BY QUALIFIED PERSONNEL TRAINED IN THE USE OF THIS PRODUCT.' The man holding it is covering his mouth and nose with a protective scarf, one way to avoid breathing in tear gas' toxic fumes.

ABC reported the canisters were discovered in downtown Cairo in Tahir Square, a hub of yesterday's protests. The tear gas was manufactured by Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania. The US provides $1.3 billion dollars a year in military financing to Egypt. Aly Eltayeb, a 26-year-old graduate student from Boston who was protesting in Cairo for days, told ABC News, "The way I see it the U.S. administration supports dictators. U.S. political institution as a whole supports dictators in the Middle East as long as they do the torturing for them."

In Obama's Egypt speech last night, he called on Mubarak and the military to 'refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters':

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What's needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people, a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

Read the full transcript here.

This morning, Blackberrys began working again in Cairo after being shut off for two days.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at January 29, 2011, 6:43am

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