Friday, July 01, 2005

URGENT:An APPEAL from an Egyptian Journalist to the Free World- PLEASE HELP

This is a dear friend of mine. she is asking me for help. But the only help I can provide her with is to make her message heard everywhere. In Egypt we are ruled by police state under emergency law. Please help and send the message around the world to make her and other Egyptian journalists seeking freedom heard everywhere.

Please take the time to read her email. I deleted her name for security reasons. She is a defender of the rights of journalists and press freedom in Egypt that the regime and government want to ban.

Dear ....,

I am sorry because I am writting that very fast and in very poor English. We need your help urgently. Yesterday, was a day of confrontation with the regime. It is a matter of days until this parliamentary session is closed on freedom of journalits. The law related to the promise which President Mubarak has given in February 2004 to abolish prison sentences for jounralists ('publishing offences). The law is not issued yet.

Moreover, the newly issued law of political right practices contains in its article 48 the right to imprison journalists. We are fed up. Last Wednesday, we organized a big conference. All political groups came to this conference. Several proposals and idea were given.

Everybody believe that resolving the freedom of expression issue is related to the political reform our country needs. One of the proposals came from a group composed of members of the general Assembly of journalists, Journalists to achieve change (Journalists for Change is among some other movements of same name but for different professions and brackets). We have called for a silent rally from the syndicate to the Parliament.

Yesterday, we went to our Press syndicate. There we found hundreds of police officers and soldiers and armored vehicles. Once we were preparing to move from the syndicate's stairs they put us under siege from allsides. They made a cordon preventing us to go out and prevented our colleagues to get in. It was a terrible situation. We tried to go out from any part. Their number exceeded us. Some other vehicles transferred other soldiers. We tried to talk with the officers. We did several attempts to break the siege. Things turned to confrontation. They didn't hit us but they pushed us regardless what happens. Things developed and they have closed the whole street leading to the syndicate. Other cars came carrying hundreds of soldiers. We didn't understand why they do all of that trying to prevent a peaceful march calling for one of the basic rights of expression without prison, whether a journalist or not. Other political groups knew what we are facing.

They tried against the situation calling for our freedom and issuing the law.Three of our colleagues are members of the Parliament. They carried our message and left to join the parliamentary session. They said on behalf of us that we are calling to; issuing the law that the syndicate prepared and presented to them 5 years ago or the new law which the ministry of justice has transferred to the Prime minister (cabinet) after being discussed in a committee from the ministry and thesyndicate. They told them that we were prevented fro our march to present our demand ourselves. The Speaker of the Parliament said that the law that have been presented to the Parliament has been transferred to the Shora council( a council for senates).

Now we want to guarantee that the Parliament discuss and issue the law when it returns from Shora council. This should happen in 3 or 5 days maximum.We are sure that if the government is serious, it would prefer the law it is already prepared by the cabinet to the Parliament.

The Speaker of the Parliament said that the law that have been presented to the Parliament has been transferred to the Shura council (a council for senates). Now we want to guarantee that the Parliament discuss and issue the law when it returns from Shora council. This should happen in 3 or 5 days maximum.We are sure that if the government is serious. It would prefer the law it is already preparing from the prime ministry to the Parliament.

We need your help urgently. A statment from differernt organizations to the governement or the parliment would be suitable. If you know anyone who can help to issue it to the president who gave us the promise. It would be great. We need pressure to urge our Parliament to issue the law before this parliamentary period is finished, remind them of the President's promise 16 months ago, tell them that is our right according to Egypt's international commitments.I forgot to tell you that we have arranged a sit-in inside the syndicate. We have started it today once the march was banned. We left the syndicate at 11pm.

Today, we will do that again from 2 pm until 9pm. Saturday, the same. At Sunday, we will organize another march. We don't know whether they will ban us again or not. Accordingly, we are arranging with all political movements and other related syndicates as lawyers to wait for us in front of the Parliament. They were coming to support us. They were prevented. We started to chant against the situation calling for our freedom and issuing the law.

We know that they (state security) have now files for everyone of us. Possibly, I won't be here tomorrow to communicate with you.This is serious. We are all in danger. We have emergency laws in this country since 24 years. We have torture in prison. They want the media and press to be speakless and speechless, trying to hide all of that. Please help us to reveal it and still keep our Freedom.

"Freedom...Freedom...Freedom"... this was our chant today when we were struggling with the armed soldiers trying to get out of the syndicate tothe streets. We believe that we can do something to our country.

Best wishes


At 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For anyone in Egypt it's not a secret that State Security has a tight grip on people. For the outside world this is entirely a new feat. Total control of a society is something from the Communist era. Something that only happens in Cuba or North Korea. Its time to let the world know that people in Egypt and probably in the entire Middle East are suffering at the hands of totalitarian security, suffocating initiative and planting fear in everyones hearts

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think that journalists should enjoy a legal preiveledge of any type only because they have that job to do. I do not understand why are they making such a big fuss presseruing the media to allow them freedom of defining people unfairly (as has been the case many times) and get away with it in a legal way. While any citezen would be under the same circumstances jailed. An ordinary citizen would have wornged a person on a much more limited scale than a journalist would. i.e if I am a journalist i can insult somone for 50 million to read and get away with it, while if I am not a journalist and insult this same person in front of two people i get jialed.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Freedom for Egyptians said...

Mubarak has the title of the president. A title he doesn't respect. Unfortunately he is defeating us all by insisting on ruling Egypt by a grip of iron that doesn't allow anyone of express or practice our right. EGyptians have been exercising national disobedience since 1952 because they had never been represented since then. I don't know an Egyptian that goes to the polls at any occasion including me.It feels like as if you are going to buy something when you know for sure that you will be subject to theft and fraud.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

Anon of 1:12 PM - I agree all people should have freedom of speech, equally - freedom of speech mean you have the right to speak your opinions without being persecuted or otherwise interfered with by the government. Free speech has limits, of course - it doesn't give you the right to harm others with your words, or to incite violence, etc.

But, Freedom of the press is ALSO imprortant. Maybe, more important. It's a free press that keeps a government accountable, because they can inform the people (and the world!) about what's really going on. This is the greatest responsibilty of the press. Free speech without a free press, is nothing. Because you can talk all you want, and nobody will hear! When you, or anyone else, speaks out... it's the press that will carry your message.

This is very unfortunate timing (or maybe, fortunate, for Mubarak!) with the confirmation hearings starting for our new Chief Justice starting today in Washington, and Katrina still a big issue. I hope the Europeans keep pick up this story, and keep it alive!


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