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One year ago, just before Egypt’s President Mubarak was toppled, protesters called the military to their side: The side of history. Hundreds of thousands chanted, “The army. The people. One hand.” The army was seen, then, as heroic. But now many fear the mighty Egyptian military with its vast economic resources will not relinquish power — that it has betrayed the revolution.

Egypt's forgotten revolutionaries

Army officers who joined Tahrir Square protests sit in jail with little popular support.

to military trials."

She conceded that the April 8th officers’ case is not the kind of topic that can be easily discussed with SCAF.

As a result, their families say, the ‘defectors’ are isolated with few allies.

Laila Al Gohary, mother of First Lieutenant Mohammed Hanafy, choked back tears while describing the deteriorating health of her son in the military prison.

"If they were farm animals, they would have received better treatment," said Al Gohary who claims her son is suffering from diabetes and a severe heart condition.

"He would have received treatment if he was a regular prisoner," she added that the political nature of his charge is the reason he is still in his cell and not in a hospital.

Al Gohary could not provide a medical report to back up her story, but such a report is virtually impossible to obtain. The military typically does not grant access to medical reports, court rulings or any kind of information about army officers.

This is one reason why the story of the April 8th movement has been one of the most underreported stories in Egyptian media.

In a press conference by SCAF on April 10, an army spokesperson said that the demonstrators of April 8th were not army officers, "but people who wanted to cause a chasm between Egyptians and their army." He added that the military is investigating in the incident; no further information was released publicly about the results. Despite repeated requests for interviews with members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces about these cases, the military declined to answer questions on the record for GlobalPost.

Few reports have appeared in the Egyptian media about the progress of the military trials about the condition of the officers. Their families have demonstrated in Tahrir Square and in front of the Ministry of Defense. They have handed out leaflets telling the story of their sons and brothers. But because of the media blackout, little is known to the public about these officers' motives, their histories, and their fate.

Roots of Conflict

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square on April 8, 2011 for a "day of cleansing calling for the trial of prominent figures from the former regime of Hosni Mubarak. Seven army officers defied a warning from the ruling military council when they joined the protesters' call for former regime elements to face trial.
(Thomas Hartwell/Courtesy)

"The army. The people. One hand” was a chant that echoed in Tahrir Square since the Egyptian police withdrawal from the square in January 28th, and the army took over the streets.

It didn't take long till "The army. The police. One hand” started to become a popular and cynical response to what many in the protest movement saw as a dramatic change in the spirit of the military.

It was in March when small protests and grassroots movements first began showing opposition to the SCAF for what protesters saw a surprising stepping up of more aggressive tactics.

Back then, Mubarak, his family, and the old guard were not yet put on trial, which raised questions about the sincerity of SCAF in responding to the public demand.

As protests turned violent, thousands were arrested and some 12,000 civilians were arrested and detained under emergency laws and told they would face trial under the military tribunals.

The “No To Military Trials” campaign also faced a media blackout but continued to speak of alleged tortures, forced “virginity tests” and other brutalities said committed by members of the military police and the army.

A leaked secret cable of the American Embassy in Cairo from 2008 offered a glimpse into what may have been a small-scale opposition movement within in the Egyptian army.

The cable, which was obtained through WikiLeaks, summarized an interview with a civilian analyst, whose name was redacted, saying that mid-level officers were being "harshly critical of a defense minister," whom they perceived as "incompetent and valuing loyalty above skill