1. I don’t think we as outside observers can really understand why the troops open fire unless we’re standing there on their side.

I think we can. The kids pulling the triggers do so because they’re ordered to, they’ve been raised to, fed with a language and narrative of fear, hate and otherness that enables them to keep firing on their fellow human beings for the crime of protesting the miserable existence forced upon them. Their bosses do so because they have to. Their prison will not hold a rebellious population without putting down protest hard before it gathers momentum or negotiating deescalation. They don’t want to negotiate so they kill.

2. Having said that, this whole situation was known about, the protest was “advertised” in advance. Is bullets the only way this could have been contained.

Riot control measures would work today but then the protest would be bigger tomorrow. If you want to keep people caged you have to be prepared to kill them. People won’t live in cages.

3. I don’t understand why you would put yourself in the front of a protest like that knowing you would be likely to get shot. I’ve not looked at Eric’s link yet but I doubt that really explains it. Saying life and death are the same is a bit of a platitude. I really think (and I am of course generalising) that we in the West just don’t understand the Arab/Muslim mindset when it comes to life and death. It’s not that life doesn’t matter, I think it’s that they believe that death is just a transition rather than THE end, and this affects their whole attitude to everything.

You can’t? They’re people like you but brutalised, stripped of hope and opportunity. If you can’t understand how that drives people to suicidal acts of sacrifice in protest I’d suggest thinking again. It’s hardly without precedent, the story evokes for me horrible images from the past of bodies hanging burned on electrified wire. It’s the will to live rather than merely existing that drives people to risk death.

When I first heard that it had kicked off, my first thought was, oh shit, here we go again. I have no hope of peace happening in this generation.