Last victims of Egypt's uprising buried in Cairo

AP News
Posted: Jun 09, 2011 11:16 AM
Last victims of Egypt's uprising buried in Cairo

Nameless in death, the last 19 victims among hundreds killed during Egypt's uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak were buried Thursday in the country's capital, hailed as martyrs who sacrificed their lives for freedom.

Their bodies had lingered for months in Cairo's morgues, never identified or claimed by anyone, until the authorities on Wednesday gave the go ahead for a communal funeral.

A total of 846 Egyptians were killed during the mass street demonstrations when Mubarak's feared police cracked down on the protesters, shooting many in the head and chest with live ammunition.

On Thursday, a small crowd of women distributed flowers and ululated while a few dozen men prayed as the 19 simple wooden coffins, draped in the Egyptian flag, were brought into the el-Sayyada Nafissa mosque in Islamic Cairo.

Several youth activists from the 18-day uprising against Mubarak and mourners attending the service held the Muslim "prayer for the dead." An imam led the prayer and a Coptic Christian priest gave a short speech afterward.

Some of those inside the mosque chanted, "prosecution, prosecution," demanding that the perpetrators of the killings face justice. After the prayers, the coffins were carried to the paupers' cemetery in the old neighborhood for burial.

"These martyrs are the children of the Egyptian people who sacrificed their lives so that we can live in freedom," said activist Tarek Zeydan, who coordinated the funeral.

It remains unknown who the 19 were, when and how exactly they were killed during the tumultuous revolt that shook Egypt. The state MENA news agency reported that the only fact established about them was that they were between 20 and 25 years of age.

The massive demonstrations forced Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11, after nearly three decades of absolute power. Among the protesters' chief complaints was the corruption that permeated his government and virtually all levels of society.

Mubarak, who is now in custody in hospital because of a heart condition, is to go on trial Aug. 3, charged with corruption and the intentional killing of the protesters. His two sons are to be tried at the same time on charges of corruption. If convicted, the former president could face the death penalty.

The revolt in Egypt followed quickly after a similarly surprising uprising in Tunisia that forced that country's longtime leader from power.

Since Mubarak's ouster, ongoing revolts have swept Yemen, Libya and Syria, but entrenched leaders in those countries have clung to power and have been responsible for widespread violence and killings of their own people who are demanding democratic reforms.