The Front for the Defense of Journalists and Liberties is an initiative to defend the freedom of the press. It includes both members and non-members of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate, and has been actively working in defending the independence of the syndicate in the face of the pressure put by the state amid the syndicate storming crisis occurred a year ago.
According to the report, the violations include 93 cases of incommunicado detention, 52 cases of verbal abuse, beatings or injuries, 10 cases of equipment damage, and the arrest of 13 journalists, some of whom are still being held in detention until now. This is in addition to 7 prison rulings and 6 investigations into complaints against journalists.
The violations also involve fine sentences against 14 journalists and media workers, and 5 cases of confiscation, banning articles from being published, as well as one case of media ban and 4 reports/ complaints by state institutions.
The report is released today at the headquarters of the Journalists Syndicate as part of the events organized by the the Front for Defending of Journalists and Liberties to mark the anniversary of the so-called “Al-Karamah (dignity) General Assembly”, in reference to the Journalists Syndicate’s general assembly held on the 4th of May last year. The assembly, at that time, resulted in issuing a number of decisions, including demanding an official apology from the Egyptian presidency for the storming of the syndicate days earlier as well as for the arrest of journalists Amr Badr and Mahmoud al-Sakka who staged their sit-in inside the syndicate’s building. The meeting also demanded to take all the legal procedures necessary for the two journalists to turning themselves in to the authorities against the backdrop of the arrest warrant issued against them.
Members of the Front said that the current Journalists ‘Syndicate Chairman and its board members- mostly involve journalists who are close to the government- tried to obstruct the ceremony whose program entails honoring former Journalists Syndicate Chairman ‘Yehiya Qalash’, former Undersecretary ‘Khaled El-Balshy’ and former Secretary General ‘Gamal Abdel-Rahim, who were all sentenced to three suspended year in prison, in addition to presenting a short documentary film about the crisis and organizing an exhibition of photographs documenting its incidents.
According to eyewitnesses, the syndicate’s security men prevented guests and journalists who do not have membership cards from entering upon directives from the current Journalists Chairman who is closed to the government Abdel-Mohsen Salama. They also reported that one of the regime-backed journalists clashed with al-Balashi and board member Mahmoud Kamel in an attempt to ban non-members journalists from entry.
Additionally, the Journalists head rejected a request by three Council members to open the main hall of the building to host the ceremony.
On their parts, board members Gamal Abdel Rahim, Mohamed Saad Abdel Hafiz, Amr Badr and Mahmoud Kamel issued a statement denouncing the stance taken by the Journalists chairman. They said, “No one can erase from memory the syndicate’s General Assembly, in which journalists were protecting their syndicate’s dignity or that any of the general assembly members are banned from entering their syndicate.”