Monday, June 05, 2006

UK Journalists Supporting their Egyptian Colleagues

The Cause is getting more attention.... more and more of the civil society organisations worldwide are starting to notice what is happening in Egypt and the calls for democracy are finding more and more ears to listen. This time it was the
National Union of Journalists in the UK (NUJ) that organised today's demo in solidarity with the Egyptian Journalists Dina Gamil and Dina Samak that were attacked by the Egyptian Security forces on May 25th while kidnapping Sharkawy and El Sha'er, both Dina(s) were not beaten however their car was badly damaged by the Police Thugs.

The Demo was attended by around 30 protestors who represented some of the active organisations in the UK like
Stop the War, Globalise Resistance, The Cairo Conference, Media Workers Against War, The Egyptian Committee in Support of the Egyptian Judges, and The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theater Union (BECTU) . The demo was in the heart of Central London in front of the BBC building and it lasted for around an hour.

Arwa is a young Egyptian jounralist who is a member of the NUJ and she was one of the reasons behind the succcess of this demo. Arwa managed in getting the support of the NUJ for the cause and she submitted a letter to the Egyptian Emabssy on the May 25th demo that was signed by the Sec Gen of the NUJ.

There were three speeches given by a representative from the NUJ then by Chris Nineham from Stop the War then Arwa read a final statement from the NUJ.

The NUJ representative said that both Dina Gamil and Samak were NUJ members so the demo is not simply a stand in support to fellow journalists but it is in fact a stand against an attack on the NUJ itself.

Chris Nineham talked about the support the USA government is giving to dictatorships though it always cliams to be supporting democracy. He also pointed out the brutality with which the Egyptian police dealt with the recent peaceful demos.

Arwa read a final statement by the NUJ that condemned the attacks on journalists in Egypt. You can read the full Press Release by the NUJ far below.

It is very important to note that all the thanks should go to Somaya Zadeh, an Iranian member of BECTU who manaed in getting them to issue a statement condemning the Police Brutality, Somaya is currently working on a Campaign against War on Iran. (Somaya is in the white shirt with shirt hair - 2nd from right in the photo below)

There were some Arab journalists who attended in solidarity with their Egyptian colleagues as well, some of them are working with the BBC Arabic service.

In the photo below you'll find from right to left John Rees (Vice President - Cairo Conference) , Chris Nineham (Stop the War Coalition) and Guy Taylor (Globalise Resistance). The three of them have attended the last Cairo Conference.


IMPORTANT NOTE: after you finish reading this report please make sure you watch th video available at the link below, it is a video of the latest "Al Hakika" program by Wael El Ebrashy. This episode is very important as the guests are Ahmed Bahaa Shabaan (Kefaya) & Abeer El Askary on one side and Mohamed Abdel Fatah Omar & Nabil Luka Bebawy on the other (both Bebawy and Omar are current members of Parliment and former High Rank Police Officers). The episode is a very true bitter reflection of our reality. You can find it here.

Find below the Press Release that the NUJ issued few days before the demo:

NUJ calls demonstration after Egyptian journalists attacked

The NUJ is to hold a demonstration outside Bush House, London, on Monday (5/6) in support of two BBC producers - both NUJ members - who were attacked after covering a meeting of the General Assembly of the Journalists’ Syndicate in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

The attack on Dina Samak and Dina Gameel (who had been covering the event for the BBC Arabic Service) took place at 5pm on May 25 as they were leaving the syndicate's garage, accompanied by another journalist from a weekly newspaper, Gihan Saaban, and a young trainee Karim Al Shaer.

The security agents outside the building pointed at their car and in less than a minute a taxi turned up, blocked the way, and about five thugs got out and surrounded the vehicle. Around 15 to 20 more thugs came from both sides of the street and started hitting the car, breaking the windscreen and a side window while swearing and shouting.

They tried to drag Dina Samak out of the car and succeeded in grabbing Gihan Saaban. While Karim Al Shaer was shouting and trying to defend her they took him out of the car, beat him in the street and put him in a police car. At this moment, a number of judges and journalists rushed out of the building and the thugs left.

On the advice of the Journalists’ Syndicate, the journalists went to file a complaint at the Maarouf police station in Cairo. They were kept waiting for over two hours and when they finally were seen, police refused to register their complaint. On 27 May, the Journalists Syndicate lodged a formal complaint with the Attorney General about the entire incident
This is not the first time that a BBC correspondent in Egypt has been attacked - Mohamed Taha was once attacked while covering parliamentary elections. And a number of journalists are still in detention after being arrested while covering, or taking part in the demonstrations in solidarity with reformist judges.

Journalists in Egypt are now targeted not because of their political views but because of the very fact that they are journalists. Dina Samak's husband, a journalist, was arrested more than a month ago and is still held without a charge.