Egyptian port-workers refuse to sign for tons of US-made tear-gas shipped in by Ministry of the Interiorworkers

Five port workers in Cairo refused to sign for a shipment of 7.5 tons of tear-gas from the US, fearing that it would be used against demonstrators; another 14 tons of tear-gas were expected from the US at the time. Peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square were subjected to relentless gas attacks by the military government last week. The shipment was eventually released and sent to storage owned by the Ministry of Interior in Cairo.

Egypt’s al-Shorouk newspaper reported that upon the arrival of the shipment, massive disagreements broke out between employees, where five employees refused to sign for the shipment, one after the other.

The five, being dubbed by activists as the “brave five”, were to be refereed to a investigative committee as to why they refused to perform their duties, which has since called off.

The news about the shipment’s arrival stirred the Twittersphere, after it was consumed all day with the country’s first post-revolution elections, and activists mocked the reinforcement of weapons that is being used against them.

UPDATE: Egypt imports 21 tons of tear gas from the US, port staff refuses to sign for it (via JWZ)

(Image: Water & tear Gas!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 89031137@N00's photostream)


  1. Here’s a question: who in the US is exporting this CS gas to Egypt, and what can be done to encourage them to re-think their assumptions about the  trade-off between profit and ethics?

    Note, I didn’t ask what can be done *legally* :)

  2. Good for port workers. Though, after the vote in Egypt, it appears there won’t be much use for tear gas, one hopes.

  3. This little anecdote right here & others like it might have a lot to do with, oh, the state of American geopolitical diplomacy.  Right in a nutshell. 

    “Hey, democracy, that is great!  Have you heard about capitalism?  It is the thing our semi-secret plutocracy use to aid your oppressors!  Ha ha ha ha, PS we hate your skin colour, your religion & your way of life.”

  4. The trade events that CTS plan to attend are listed on their website
    The next one is in Vegas on January 18-21

    Just sayin’

  5. This is the perpetual problem with less-than-lethal munitions. How do you separate out the cases where not having them is going to dramatically improve the situation, and the cases where not having them is going to dramatically harm the situation?

    I think we can all agree that UC Davis campus cops should probably have their pepper spray taken away from them for a while. But Officer J. Random Dickhead probably isn’t going to shoot a line of linked-arms protesters with his sidearm.

    A third world government, however, gives no guarantees. If  Myanmar, or Algeria, or Cote d’Ivoire, or Egypt (minus the current, and probably fleeting, media attention) can’t disperse protesters with tear gas, they’re going to do it with 7.62mm. And those protesters aren’t going to run away screaming. They’re just going to die screaming.

    (This should not be read as advocating tyrannical governments using /any/ sort of force on their own citizens. It should be read as an acknowledgment that they /are/ going to, and until that ceases to be the case, I’m all for harm reduction.)

    I’m thinking that Syria, for example, could use a lot more tear gas shipments and a lot fewer ammunition shipments.

    1. It can kill. It may be less-lethal, but calling it less-than-lethal is deceptive. Many protesters in Egypt have recently been killed by tear gas, though probably CN instead of CS.

      1. Absolutely true. That is why I didn’t use the term ‘nonlethal.’ Tear gas can kill, pepper spray can kill, Tasers can kill, batons can kill. But none of them kill nearly as effectively as machinegun fire, which is the traditional alternative to tear gas in much of the world.

  6. Here’s the thing…

    “Non-lethal weapon” overlaps neatly with “torture device”. People who would use the latter don’t want to end up with a dead body on their hands, after all.

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