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Police men scored it out of the dictionary
Freedom of Expression is not desired in Egypt
"At the police station, policemen asked, who of you is American? The journalists said no one. At that point, policemen started to violently beat them"
A witness statement on the attack on six Egyptian and foreign journalists by police men in Ezbat Marshaq of Dakarnas City in the governorate of Dakahliya in the Egyptian Delta.
Violations against Egyptians and those working in media is something natural in Egypt. Violations practiced by Egyptian police against citizens during peaceful assembly and when they express themselves and violations against journalists, writers, and cyber activists are also committed with no variation. The ministry of interior ensures that policemen will not be punished and often, the public prosecutor gives a blind eye to these violations.
What Egypt witnessed during the month starting from 24 April to 25 May 2006 was not only a violation against Freedom of Expression. Rather it was an attempt to erase this value and this right completely. Violations during that months were committed against hundreds of Egyptian citizens who were only practicing their legitimate right to express themselves and support the judges in a peaceful manner. More than 35 journalist, bloggers and poets, in addition to media professions were repeatedly attacked during that month.
It wont be an exaggeration if we describe that month of being the worst month for press freedom and freedom of expression during the last six years, if not during the Mubarak's rule that was characterized by emergency laws and oppression of liberties in general.
The period from 24 April to 25 May 2006 witnessed state security bodies launching an oppressive campaign using violence against all methods of expression that the state cannot control. Violations included arrests and torture of those working in the field of expression. In addition, cameras were destroyed, and policemen damaged video tapes and prevented journalists and correspondents from reaching the place of incident. Poets and bloggers were arrested. Cairo was transformed, at many times, into what could be described as military camps controlled by policemen who are violent and sadistic and who feel confident that they wont be held accountable or punished for their actions.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
(The International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights)
Article 47 of the Egyptian Constitution
Freedom of opinion is guaranteed. Every individual has the right to express his opinion and to publicize it verbally or in writing or by photography or by other means within the limits of the law. Self-criticism and constructive criticism is the guarantee for the safety of the national structure
These are some of the clauses that oblige the Egyptian government to respect what they state. They are the same articles that the government always uses in front of the UN committees and states proudly that the Egyptian law stipulates the respect of human rights and guarantees freedom of expression.
However, what we monitor here, with no recommendations or additions, confirms that what is stipulated in Egyptian legislations or covenants that Egypt has ratified, is totally different from the reality.
Violations against freedom of expression and press freedom
24 April - 25 May 2006
1. Ibrahim Al-Sahari (still in detention)
Journalist for Al-Alam Al-Youm Newspaper
Al-Sahari was kidnapped and detained by state security forces on 26 April 2006 while he was covering demonstrations in solidarity of judges. He was accused of being a menace to public order and the state security prosecutor ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation.
2. Saher Gad (still in detention)
Journalist for Al-Geil Newspaper
He was arrested by state security forces in Cairo on 26 April 2006 while covering demonstrations in solidarity of judges who are in front of a disciplinary committee. He was accused of being a menace to public order. The state security prosecutor ordered his detention for 15 days pending investigation.
3. Hussein Abdel Ghani
Al-Jazeera Cairo Bureau Chief
As is always the case, Abdel Ghani was kidnapped using a cheap decoy that the Egyptian security has been accustomed to use. Some security officers asked to talk with Abdel Ghani privately while he was in a hotel in the governorate of Sinai and while he was swimming. Afterwards, he disappeared. It was later discovered that he was detained. His kidnappers did not inform him of their identity. He was transferred to Egypt and was no allowed to even wear his clothes.
Later, Abdel Ghani realized that he was being arrested for broadcasting what the ministry of interior sees as false news and despite the fact that Al-Jazeera has broadcast the denial of the ministry of interior to the news broadcast, which was fire exchange against a police barricade in Belbeis city in Al-Sharqiya governorate. He was interrogated until 10 am and the press syndicate was not informed of the incident and as a result none of the members of the syndicate were able to be legally present. The state security prosecutor later announced to release Abdel Ghani on a 10 thousand pounds (1700 dollars) bail.
4. Amin Al-Deib (still in detention)
Popular Poet and member of the book federation
He was arrested on 26 April 2006 from his home by state security officers. He was accused of being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. However the truth goes back to his poetry that he presents in for and popular events. His poetry is very critical and incites the people to stand against oppression and corruption and the extension of the state of emergency. Among his poetry is a poem entitled "Think and See the Exceptions" that was recorded on tape and distributed. Also, engineer Fathy Shehab Al-Din and Sami Gawish were arrested for distributing tapes that include this poetry.
5. Malek Mustafa
Head of the http://malek-x.net blog
He was arrested at around 7 pm on 26 July 2006 along with another group while they were protesting in front of the Higher Court in solidarity with the judges.
Security forces surrounded them and confiscated all their belongings.
In front of every one and in front of cameras, security forces started to attack this group and forced them in police cars. They were accused of blocking the traffic. Mustafa was released on 23 May 2006.
6. Osama Abdel Nabi
Photographer for Al-Masry Al-Youm Newspaper
While he was covering a demonstration demanding the independence of universities on 3 May 2006, security forces attacked him with his camera and hit him beneath his eye.
7. Hussein Mohsen
Turkish television cameraman
Huseein Mohsen did not escape attacks perpetrated against several journalists on 11 May 2006 while he was covering demonstrations in solidarity with the judges. The demonstrations were taking place in front of the Higher Court. Policemen attacked him and beat him after they were given orders from some officers.
8. Reuters team
Their cameras were confiscated by force while they were covering the demonstration in support of the judges. This was in the morning of 11 May 2006 in front of the Higher Court in Cairo.
9. Lina Al-Ghadban
10. Mohammed Al-Daba'
11. Yasser Seliman
12. Nasr Youssef
All correspondents of the Al-Jazeera
Al-Jazeera crew was attacked on the morning of 11 May 2006 while covering a demonstration in front of the Higher Court. More than seven plain clothed policemen violently attacked cameraman Yasser Seliman and confiscated his camera. He was punched in his face and injured in his left hand. He was detained along with the rest of the crew for 15 minutes and video tapes were confiscated.
13. Abeer Al-Askary
Journalist for Al-Dostour Newspaper
As part of a campaign initiated by Al-Dostour Newspaper against one of the officers accused for torture in Egypt, Al-Aksary published an investigative report about this officer, Walid Al-Dessouki.
State Security officers took advantage of the incidents on 11 May and the demonstrations in solidarity with the judges. They kidnapped Al-Askaray off Al-Sayyeda Zeinab Street and beat her. They stole her bag, papers and phone. In front of the Sayyeda Zeinab police station she tried to call for help from pedestrians passing by. Security officers beat her and insulted her. One of the officers told the pedestrians that she was arrested for prostitution and that he just arrested her from a brothel.
In a dark dirty room and under the supervision of one of the state security officers, her clothes were torn off her body and she was kicked in the stomach. She was slapped in her face until she nearly fainted.
Suddenly, Al-Askary got a phone call on her mobile phone that was in the hands of one of the officers. The officer did not answer, but Al-Askary told him that her colleagues know that she has been arrested. Two of the officers dragged her outside of the police station with her torn clothes and left her in a distant area, 3 km away from the police station.
14. Amr Abdullah
Photographer for Al-Masry Al-Youm Newspaper
Amr Abdullah was insulted and beaten on 11 May 2006 by state security forces while he was covering security forces attacks against peaceful demonstrators. Plain clothed forces chased him and caught him and attacked him. They confiscated the two cameras that were on him. They destroyed his digital camera and took the film from his other camera.
15. Alaa Seif Al-Islam (Still in detention)
Blogger and head of the blog www.manalaa.net
He is a political activist. He is considered by many to be the god father of bloggers in Egypt despite his young age. He won a prize from Reporters without Borders in Germany last year with his wife, Manal, for establishing www.manalaa.net as the site that he and his wife have established is considered to be the best blog in the world. Alaa is a IT officer in the Italian Development Association in Egypt.
He was arrested on 7 may 2006 during the session looking into the cassation of transferring the judges to a disciplinary committee. The incident was in front of the South Cairo Court. His friends who tried to contact him on his mobile were threatened.
Before his arrest, Alaa had posted on his blog a picture of the state security officer infamous for his torture and who Abeer Al-Askary has exposed in a investigative report published in Al-Dostour. His arrest raises questions on whether he was arrested fro peacefully protesting in front of the South Cairo Court or because he exposed Walid Al-Dessouki. In both cases, his arrest is a blatant violation of law.
16. Rasha Azzab
Kanana website editor
She was arrested on 7 May 2006 while in front of South Cairo Court covering a demonstration of tens of activists who were in solidarity with the judges. The demonstration took while the court cassation was looking into the decision to transfer Judge Hesham Bastawisis and Mahmoud Mekki to South Cairo Court.
She was put in the criminal section of the Women's Qanater prison. The section is overcrowded and divided into a number of cells. The prison cell is 5x7 meters big and in each cell there is 35 prisoners living with all kinds of insects. In addition, Azzab was under severe restriction and was strongly monitored during periods of break which is contrary to the treatment of the rest of prisoners.
Azzab was released on 6 June 2006, a month after she was arrested.
17. Nada Al-Qassas
Journalist for Al-Mawqif Al-Araby Newspaper
Al-Qassas is also one of the leaders in the Popular Committee in Solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada and she is specialized in computer programming.
She was arrested on 7 May while covering a demonstration in solidarity with the judges, Hesham Bastawisis and Mahmoud Mekki. The demonstration was in front of the South Cairo Court.
She was arrested in Al-Qanater Criminal Prison until 6 June 2006.
18. Nadia Abul Magd
Associated Press Correspondent
Abul Magd was attacked along with a group of citizens while she was trying to cover incidents taking place in front of the Gamal Abdel Nasser Underground Station in the morning of Thursday 11 May 2006. Security forces attacked all people in front of the underground station. As a result of the attack Abul Magd fell on the ground and was run over by people.
Abul Magd was detained by State Security in the noon of 19 May 2006 in Sharm El-Sheikh when she was covering preparations for the World Economic Forum (Davos). She was detained for two hours even though she had a license to cover the event. Abul Magd was detained along with the team accompanying her for a period of an hour in the streets.
The other hour was in the headquarters of the State Security Bureau. Officials did not respond to her inquiries of the reasons of detention that included AP's team delegated to cover the conference. The team included Abul Magd, a photographer, a cameraman, and a driver. When a security official finished praying he ordered their release.
19. Beshir Sakr, Correspondent of Al-Tagammu Newspaper.
20. Mohammed Abdel Latif, correspondent of Al-Karama Newspaepr
21. Elvis Younil, French journalist
22. Jean Claude, French Journalist
23. Gejoire Deboire, Swiss Journalist.
24. Thomas Geithaid, Belge Journalist
On Sunday 21 May 2006 at around 11 am, these five journalists went to Ezzbat Marshaq of Dakarnas City in the governorate of Dakahliya in the Egyptian Delta to cover an incident when farmers refused to sign on a paper that states that they have received a land fought for between some farmers and landowners. The journalists were surprised to see a huge police campaign composed of more than 15 central security cars, 4 armored vehicles, 10 police cars, and a fire engine. The journalists explained to the police that they are there to cover the events.
Police officers refused them their presence and tried to confiscate their cameras. Farmers intervened to protect the journalists. In an attempt to incite the farmers against the journalists, the police told the farmers that these journalists are Israelis!! As a result they journalists were attacked and dragged to the police station. In the police station the policeman asked them if any of them was American. The journalists said no. Consequently, the policemen violently assaulted the journalist and beat them.
They were then released after they were attacked. Egyptian journalists were transferred to the public prosecutor with framed charges against them. They were severely injured as a result of the attack. The journalists were detained for four days and then released. Following that a campaign to hold accountable the officers who attacked the journalists started in an attempt to avoid these officers escaping from punishment, which is usually the case in Egypt.
25. Wael Al-Ibrashi, Executive Editor in Chief of Sout Al-Umma Newspaper and TV presenter in Dream Satellite Channel.
26. Hoda Abu Bakr, a journalist for Sout Al-Umma Newspaper
27. Abdel Hakim Al-Shami, journalist for Afaq Arabiya Newspaper
28. Gamal Tag, Bar Association Board Member.
On Wednesday 24 May 2006 the Egyptian public prosecutor announced the transferral of Wael El-Ibrashi along with journalists Hoda Abu Bakr and Abdel Hakim Al-Shami and Lawyer Gamal Tag to the criminal court. This is based on a complaint filed by Judge Mahmoud Seddik Berham against the journalists and the lawyer for publishing a black list, prepared by the Lawyers Syndicate, composed of a number of judges who participated in the forging of the recent parliamentary elections held in November and December 2005. First initials were only published.
29. Hossam Al-Hamalawy
LA times Correspondent
11 May 2006
Al- Hamalawy says that he was about to leave Talaat Harb street in downtown Cairo when he was stopped by to policemen who asked him to hand his ID card and Camera. "I told him I don't have a camera on me. I had my mobile phone on me so he took it and looked at the pictures in it. It only had pictures of me and my friends".
25 May 2006
State Security imposed a strong blockade around the Press Syndicate on that day. Al-Hamalawy asked one of the officers to older the soldiers to allow him to leave the demonstration. But the officer refused. At that point, Al-Hamalawy repeated his request while shouting. Suddenly, the officer went over to Al-Hamalawy and sprayed him directly in the face with pepper spray. This was done in front of all present, including HRinfo Executive Director Gamal Eid, who was affected by the spray. Al-Hamalawy fell on the ground and the officer disappeared.
Al-Hamalawy later took pictures of the officer and distributed the picture on his mailing list.
30. Mohammed Al-Sharqawi (still detained)
Al-Sharqawi is the blogger of http://www.speaksfreely.net which seems to be one of the reasons for his arrest last month.
After Al-Sharqawi was released on 23 May 2006 after a month of detention in Tora Prison, he was arrested again while leaving the Egyptian Press Syndicate on 25 May 2006 at around 6 pm in the after noon. Al-Sharqawi was dragged by plain clothed policemen at the crossroad of Abdel Khaled Tharwat into a building entrance where he was brutally insulted and beaten until blood was coming out of his mouth.
Inside the police car while he was being transported to Kasr El-Nil police station he was beaten on his back. When he arrived at the police station the beating started to take a more concentrated form as the assault was concentrating on certain areas and in a manner that reflects mastery in torture and sadistic tendencies. He was forced to bend down and a cardboard was forced into his anus and then he was ordered to sleep on his stomach and one of the officers stood on his back.
31. Karim Al-Sha'er (still in detention)
Head of the Egypt is Free Blog and a journalist under training in Al-Karam Newspaper.
Al-Sha'er faced to incidents of attack and arrest.
The first incident:
On 24 April 2006 he was kidnapped off the street in front of the Judges Club and was detained for nearly a month. He was released on 23 May 2006.
He was kidnapped from the car of Dina Samak, a journalist for the BBC. This was in the afternoon of 25 May 2006. Policemen destroyed Samak's car and physically assaulted Al-Sha'er before dragging him to Kasr El-Nil Police Station, where police officers continued torturing him. He was then transferred to the State Security Prosecutor and charged with 517 state security charges.
32. Essam Fadl
Journalist for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper
Fadl found out while at the Egyptian Press Syndicate on 25 May 2006 of the arrest of Mohammed Al-Sharqawi and Karim Al-Sha'er. "I felt I was in danger, so I left amidst a crowd. I found out from a phone call that security forces are blockading a vigil in front of Saad Zaghloul's grave. At around 7.30 pm I went to my home which is located in Al-Sayyeda Zeinab district. I felt that someone was following me. There were actually four persons following me.
I ran but a police car was there too. They were able to catch me and started to beat me. They blindfolded me and threw me inside the car. They beat me with their shoes and sticks. I heard a voice similar to that of Ahmed Al-Azazi, a police officer. The voice telling me: isn't it enough what you are publishing in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, now you are demonstrating! Let the judges benefit you. The officer continued to beat me until I lost consciousness. I woke up while they were throwing me in the street. One of the officers told me: let me you son of a … see you one more time and see what I will do to you. It was 11 pm", Fadl said.
33. Dina Samak, BBC correspondent
34. Jehan Shaaban, Sout Al-Umma Journalist
35. Dina Gameel, BBC correspondent
While Dina Samak and Dina Gameel along with Jehan Shaaban and Karim Al-Sha'er were in the Car of Samak and following their coverage of the demonstration in front of the Judges Club on 25 May 2006, a taxi stopped them. From the taxi came out a number of plain clothed policemen. They were then joined with another group. They started to destroy the car by throwing stones and empty bottles at it. Al-Sha'er was arrested.
Samak was injured as a result of the broken glass.
When they went to the police station with a representative from the Egyptian Press Syndicate Board and a number of lawyers to file a complaint, the stayed for two hours without the police writing the report or give a reason for not preparing the report.
Accordingly, the Press Syndicate decided to file a complaint to the public prosecutor, stating the attack that took place in front of the syndicate.
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